The Mary Month of May
Well, May is merry for the secular world, but for Catholics there is a little twist. It could be thought of as the “Mary month of May.”
Mary? Yes, May has the distinction of being dedicated to the Blessed Mother. How did May become known as the month of Mary? The history dates back to ancient times, prior to the birth of Christ, when May 1st was known as Festival Day. The English added to the merriment, so to speak, by dancing around a May Pole during the May Day celebration.
The Pagans decided it was a good time to honor the goddess Flora with a crowning of the May Queen. This laid the foundation for what would become a tradition for the Roman Catholic Church which countered the Pagan ritual by observing May as the month of Mary.
The historical tradition of crowning Mary is alive and well at St. Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Swartz Creek. The crowning is “very traditional and devotional,” says Sr. Jane Anthony, OP.
This year, the crowning will be held Monday, May 15 beginning with Mass at 7 p.m. Following the Liturgy, a girl from the parish’s confirmation class, attired in a white gown and surrounded by attendants, will crown the statue of Mary with a wreath of flowers and ribbons. Each child is then given an opportunity to give a gift of flowers to the Blessed Mother. Fr. Amos Wischmeyer concludes with a litany to Mary and consecration.
Honoring Mary in such a way used to be a big celebration in Catholic parishes. However, according to Sr. Jane Anthony, times have changed. “It was a very special event to honor the Blessed Mother,” she says.
While some parishes may still hold a May crowning, the ceremonies do not necessarily adhere to tradition—a very important aspect to Sr. Jane Anthony. “In order for children to understand the depth and beauty (of the crowing), you have to make it special,” she says.
And special it is at St. Mary Parish. Besides, what better way is there to honor the greatest mother in history than with a beautiful ceremony and gifts of flowers? She is, after all, the Queen of Heaven.