Carna is a protective Roman Goddess, who brings strength of the
physical body. Her name is related to the Latin caro, "flesh",
and She protects and keeps healthy the vital organs, especially the lungs, liver
and heart. At Her festival it was traditional to serve a soup made from bacon
and beans; She is also the Goddess who helps the body derive nourishment from
food, and to convert it to physical health and strength.
Her festival on the 1st of June was called the Fabrariae Calendae
(the "Calends of the Beans", fabae being "beans"which
I guess makes "fava bean" redundant), from the offerings made. As
mentioned above, the traditional food of the day was a dish of beans and bacon
with spelt (a grain which is related to wheat), believed to be an especially
strengthening dish, which is quite true, as they all contain a lot of protein.
Eating this dish on this day was said to protect one's internal organs and bring
health for the following year. The poet Ovid, though he confuses Her with the
Goddess Cardea, says that the association of these
simple foods with this Goddess proves Her great antiquity. These offerings were
made in a sacred grove in which Carna was said to live, down by the Tiber river,
and which was dedicated to the otherwise unknown God Alernus (or Helernus).
Carna had a sanctuary on the Caelian Hill, the most south-eastern
of the seven hills, traditionally vowed by L. Junius Brutus, the very first
consul (whose surname means "Idiot", by the by) on the 1st of June
at the very beginning of the Roman Republic, which is usually said to have been
around 510 BCE. This sanctuary or temple may have stood for a good 700 years,
as it is mentioned in the writings of Tertullian, a 3rd century Christian who
was trained as a lawyer. However, he calls Her a Hinge-Goddess (that is, Cardea),
so perhaps he had the wrong Goddess (and wrong shrine) too.
Carna is still confused with Cardea, the Goddess of Door-hinges,
which is Ovid's fault; they are not related at all, merely having similar names.
The story I've given under Cardea, where She protects a child from vampires
with whitethorn, was told of Carna by Ovid; though he hopelessly mixes Them
up, the Goddess in the tale does offer the vital organs of a pig as substitute
for those of the child attacked by the vampire, so perhaps Carna was meant after
all, as the vital organs are Her subject.
Also called: Carnea, Dea Carna
One of these days I'm going to go through my copy of Apicius
and see if I can't find an ancient Roman recipe for bacon and bean soup. If
I do, I'll post it here.