to this legend, Herod sent soldiers in pursuit of the holy family. At one
point in the journey they came across a farmer sowing a field of wheat.
“If anyone asks after us,
tell them we passed when you were sowing the corn” instructed Mary.
That night, miraculously, the
wheat grew to ripeness. When Herod’s men arrived, the farmer told his
(perfectly true) story. The soldiers, thinking they had passed by months
before, gave up the chase.
This story does not appear in any of the apocryphal
gospels and its origin is obscure, but it was popular with Flemish artists
who included it as an additional landscape element.