May the month of Mary

May, the Month of Mary
May is the month when Catholics traditionally
focus on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The practice
dates back at least 700 years and is still observed
around the world today. May is seen as the
beginning of new life and the start of summer,
which makes this a logical time for the celebra-
tions of Mary, who brought life into the world.
May Devotions
This month of devotions in the church calendar is characterised by special hymns and the use of flowers, which bring nature into the church.

There are several Marian feast days in May, including Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The celebration of May as a holy month for Mary has been ratified by several popes through the ages. Pope Benedict XV ordered a prayer for peace in 1915 during World War I and Pope Pius XII called for May devotions in 1939, at the start of World War II.
 

The May Crowning
Perhaps the most well-known of the May Marian devotions is the crowning of a statue of Mary with flowers. This became particularly popular in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a procession of school-age boys and girls dressed in their finery,

In this ceremony, the statue is decorated at its base with flowers and one of the girls would be chosen to crown Mary with flowers. The nineteenth century hymn ‘Bring Flowers of the Rarest’ is a traditional accompaniment to this ceremony. Its lyrics, ‘O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today, Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May,’ sum up what the celebrations are all about.
This practise is echoed on a smaller scale throughout the Catholic world with families decorating a statue or picture of the Virgin Mary in their own homes.


Marian Shrines
Marian shrines also receive particular attention during this special month and again, are decorated with flowers. Pilgrims sometimes undertake a journey to reach a particular shrine, praying the rosary along the way.