Because of May Crownings

We Catholics dedicate the month of May to Mary, who is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Today at noon, for the first time in my 47 years, I participated in a May Crowning.

We Catholics do not worship Mary; we ask her to pray for us. To those who did not know her destiny, Mary probably seemed like an ordinary teenager when she became the Mother of God. And yet, Mary was the most extraordinary woman who ever lived. How wonderful that our Church cherishes the unique role she played in bearing and raising the Son of God and the Savior of our world. She kept her faith all the way to the foot of her son’s cross.

At the end of Mass, we choristers processed out of the church and into the humid spring air, singing “Immaculate Mary.” Ahead of us were the altar servers and our pastor. Following behind us were the children in the catechism program, their parents, and any parishioner who wanted to join in. C.J., a third-grade boy, carried the crowns of flowers on a lace pillow.

We left the church singing and were confronted with the sight of traffic moving along our town’s central avenue. We kept singing as we walked past the roar of the large air-conditioning unit on the side of the church and watched as some parishioners drove out of the parking lot. Finally, our troupe arrived at the parish prayer garden, which sits between the church and our parish center. The children laid flowers at the foot of the statue of Mary.

I couldn’t snap a photo of Emily, my friend’s daughter and designated coronator, putting the crowns of flowers on Mary and her infant Jesus because just then the choir had to sing “Regina Coeli,” an ancient Latin Marian hymn  But I did manage to snap a photo with my cell phone moments before the crowning.

I felt full of joy as I participated in this lovely devotion. The parish where I grew up abandoned it in the aftermath of Vatican II. In fact, I never even had heard of a May Crowning until I married my husband 17 years ago. Like me, Greg is a lifelong Catholic. Our current parish has revived this tradition, but for the last several years it has had to host it indoors because of rain. 

When the procession and the hymns and the crowning were over, our parish catechitecal leader lingered in the garden to readjust the crowns so they wouldn’t fall off. Such a simple act of devotion.

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  • Maria

    I am always heartened to hear of cermonies wherein Mary is still honored…Who did not want to be May Queen as a girl…May is Mary's month. We honor her. I was named after Our Lady and so feel especially close to her.Here are two of the Fatima prayers, given to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco–THE ANGEL'S PRAYER(Given to the three children by the angel who preceded Our Lady's first appearance to them.)O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences by which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners. (say 3 times) "O God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you."

  • Julie Cragon

    I love May Crownings. In our grade school the eighth graders dress in pastel and the second graders wear their First Communion outfits and procession in, leaving roses for Mary in a vase before her statue. Makes me cry every time!

  • Anne

    I had the joy of participating in a beautiful May crowning and procession today. It was glorious! But my favorite part by far, after singing, "On this day oh Beautiful Mother" which is one of my all time favorites and reminds me of my own mother, was witnessing the wonderful priest bless the boys who were serving at the altar. It was at the side of the grotto, apart from the rest of the participants. In other words, it was a private blessing, so very beautiful it made me cry!


    My daughters participate in the May Crowning every year after the First Friday Mass in May. This is one of the marvelous benefits of children being raised in Catholic School! Their devotion to the Blessd Mother, who always points us towards her Son Jesus, is a direct result of their many years of Catholic schooling.

  • Patrice Egging

    My first May Crowning was a disaster. As an adult, my husband of 15 years told me he wanted to go back to the Catholic Church. We had both become Episcopalian, as a compromise..I had been a Methodist…when his parish Priest refused to marry us in an ecumenical ceremony…long story.Anyway, it wasn't long after we had started to attend Mass on a weekly basis, with our 3 children, when the May crowning happened at the end of Mass. I did not understand much of anything Catholic. I burst into tears, and had to leave the Church because I thought everyone was worshiping Mary. It was an awful feeling.It took 3 years of talking to the Priest to get my questions answered. I was not very nice to him either. It took more years to even begin to have an understanding of Mary. The Rosary was the last to be understood. I have been Catholic for 26 years now..and I'm still learning. And I love Mother in Faith, and am so greatful for her patience with me.

  • Allison

    @Patrice: Thanks for offering this reflection. It shows me you must be a very thoughtful person to think so deeply about this. And I am happy you have found a way to be close to Our Lady.

  • Anonymous

    Is the song "Bring Flowers of the Rarest" still sung at May crownings? How about "'Tis the Month of Our Mother"?

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous 4:36-I was thinking about that same song! (Bring Flowers of the Rarest). My 93 year old mother has requested this song for her funeral recession and I just purchased it from Itunes. She had a major health scare a few weeks ago, and I let her listen to it (along with the rest of her funeral music). She's recovered beautifully and I'm glad to have this song in my library. I just hope we can find a choir to sing it when the time comes.. Sheila

  • Allison

    Sheila: I am glad your mom is on the mend. She must have lovely memories of hearing that piece as a child? At May Crownings?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Allison,Yes, my mother went to Parochial School through the eighth grade, as did her first four children, so she enjoyed many of them. Our Parish, St Theresa's of Avilla (in West Roxbury, Ma), had 150 children in each of eight grades. First Communions and May Processions were very memorable! She'll be buried from that church, so it will be a homecoming for our scattered family. Sheila

  • Anonymous

    I was one of hundreds who took part in a mile-long procession yesterday, to honor Mary! It was simply amazing! We prayed the rosary as we went along. There were altar boys leading, then Knights of Columbus carrying a beautiful statue of Mary – one of the traveling pilgrim statues of Our Lady of Fatima, and they were followed by several priests, at least one deacon, and our wonderful Auxiliary Bishop James Conley! Yes this was in Denver, one of the least-churched metropolitan areas in the country. The procession began at St. Elizabeth of Hungary and ended at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.This is the first time in my life that I have been part of a procession like this, in fact, I've never seen one before, excepting pictures from Catholic countries of Latin America.Yay for May Crownings and processions!Amy Colorado

  • Anonymous

    For those parishes who had abandoned the crowning of ourBlessed Mother in the month of May, I hope you will bring it back.You have robbed our children and grandchildren of a beautiful, old custom. One I am sure has Mary's blessings for all.

  • Allison

    @Amy: That sounds magnificent.@Anon: I pray with you.

  • lily

    I had the privilege of being one of two May "crowners" when I was in the second grade and had just received my first communion. I still remember how special that was and it was the start to a deep devotion to Mary. Your writing today brought back that special memory. Thank you…