In the Midst of May: The Crowning of Our Lady

Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.” This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 773)

A memorable event from my childhood stands out to me and unfurls with a timeless grace—the May Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a tradition that first rose to popularity during the medieval ages. In our parish, one of the younger children would place a crown of roses upon the head of the statue of Our Lady that was nestled in the rose garden outside of our little church. This beautiful tradition, an annual rite of spring, weaved a wondrous connection to my Catholic faith and, most profoundly, to my mother.

As May adorned the landscape with blossoms, I recall all of us after Mass one Sunday gathering around the exterior of the church, where the weathered yet lovely statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary stood amidst of a shower of roses. The open sky served as our sanctuary, and the air carried the fragrant whispers of Marian devotion. With my mother by my side, we joined together with our fellow parishioners to revere our Blessed Mother, having a statue to remind us of Our Lady just as a photograph reminds us of those we love.

The garden transformed into a sacred space adorned with a bed of roses, creating a tableau of vibrant colors that mirrored our joy and love for the Queen of Heaven. Among our brothers and sisters in Christ, we took our place, embracing the simplicity and purity of the moment. The girls dressed in white dresses and boys dressed in white suits took turns delicately placing the flowers at the base of the statue.

The crowning moment unfolded with such simplicity and grace. One of the girls was chosen to delicately place a crown of roses upon the statue of Mary’s head. As we knelt beside the statue praying the Rosary, my mother whispered into my ear the significance of this outdoor May Crowning. She spoke of Mary’s enduring love and her role as a source of peace in times of both joy and sorrow. In that open space beneath the sun-kissed sky, the connection to the divine felt more intimate, as we became ever more aware that our Lord was smiling down at our collective devotion to His Mother.

For me as a child, the May Crowning was not simply a religious ritual; it was a testament to the love and respect that we as Catholics have for Our Lady. As I knelt beside my mother on the ground, I sensed a profound connection to something greater than myself.

Years have passed, but the memory of the outdoor May Crowning endures. It was more than a ceremony because amidst the blossoms and prayers, I found a deeper understanding of the bond between a mother, a child, and the perpetual love of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Photo by Jared Subia on Unsplash

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Christina M. Sorrentino resides in Staten Island, New York, and is a freelance writer, theology teacher, and author of the books Belonging to Christ and Called to Love - A Listening Heart. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Ignitum Today and has contributed to various publications including Word on Fire, Radiant Magazine, and Homiletic & Pastoral Review. She has also appeared on Sacred Heart Radio, and has been featured in the National Catholic Register's "Best in Catholic Blogging". Christina blogs at Called to Love - A Listening Heart and can be followed on Twitter @cmsorrps4610.

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