ROWING UP, my Catholic school was run by the Carmelite Sisters and May was always an exciting month! As we all know, the month of May is dedicated to our Blessed Mother and each year we would celebrate by participating in a “May Crowning”. The first communicants would dress in their best clothes to lead the procession, the entire student body would bring beautiful flowers to present to Mary, and one lucky girl would be chosen from the eighth grade class to crown the statue of our Blessed Mother.1
Dear reader, when I was thirteen, I was that ‘lucky’ girl!
The tradition of Marian devotions dates back to the early Church, but the specific origins of May Crowning is unknown. We do know, however, that in the 18th century, the practice of dedicating the month of May to Mary was instituted by Father Latomia of the Roman College of the Society of Jesus. Henceforth, the custom spread and in 1815 Pope Pius VII “granted a partial indulgence for participating in either a public or private devotion honoring Mary during the month of May; Pope Pius IX made the indulgence plenary in 1859.” 2 Today, these particular indulgences have been abolished.
It is also interesting to note that the spread of the dedication of the month of May to Mary may have been aided by the apparitions that took place between the 19th and 20th centuries, which included: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (1830), Our Lady of La Salette (1846), Our Lady of Lourdes (1858), Our Lady of Knock (1879), and Our Lady of Fatima (1917).
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)
As a mother, my family has participated in May Crowning ceremonies with our local homeschooling co-op for the past few years. Due to current circumstances, it was canceled this year. So we decided to have a May Crowning celebration of our own and the children were excited!
Now, mamas, please know that living liturgically in our domestic monasteries does not have to be difficult or extravagant. In fact, simple can be better and allows us not to get bogged down with the details of a ‘daunting’ task. That’s not to say that I frown upon planning, but to remember that we should not dread celebrating these beautiful feasts and devotions because they cause us more anxiety than joy.
The day was beautiful and it was quite simple to organize. All you need are flowers (store bought, from your garden, or cut-out paper bouquets), a statue of our Lady, a crown (made of real flowers/leaves, paper flowers, or a paper crown), and your voice!
There is no specific framework to the ceremony, but we chose to sing a few Marian songs, crown our Lady, present her with all of our flowers, and pray the Magnificat, to close. Some of the songs we sang were “Immaculate Mary”, “Salve Regina”, “Ave Maria”, and of course, “Flowers of the Rarest” as we crowned our Blessed Mother! You can organize the celebration to your liking, sing the Marian songs your family loves, pray a rosary, the Angelus, or three Hail Marys; it really is whatever works best for your family.
So, dear reader, the month of May has not yet passed us! I highly encourage you to honor our Blessed Mother by having a May Crowning in your home, remembering that we do all things for the greater glory of God. The point is not to have a perfect celebration, but to teach our children about the Truths and Traditions of our beautiful Faith. The point is to have them live and absorb these experiences, to have them embrace these rich customs as their own. The point of liturgical living is for them to identify as proud Catholics until they meet their Maker.
Please send me your May Crowning stories and pictures so I can write a follow-up post! Click here to send e-mail.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles formerly taught and ran our local parish school. “Rooted in the Gospel, the Church and our Carmelite vocation, the Carmelite Sisters’ work in Catholic schools from California to Miami, Florida.” Link to the official website of the Carmelite Sisters.
2 Link to Catholic Herald article on article about the origins of May Crowning.