"O Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today.” Many are familiar with this 19th-century Marian hymn traditionally used during May crownings.
And who doesn’t think of a May crowning at this time of year? Bouquets of beautiful flowers, children singing hymns, a procession ending with a crown of flowers placed upon a statue of Mary, honoring her as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The entire month of May is dedicated to honoring Mary through prayer, song and other observances.
Throughout the archdiocese, many schools continue the time-honored tradition of a May crowning. At Immaculate Conception–Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Everett, Principal Kathy Wartelle reports that the school’s May crowning happens at a Mass during the first week of May. It is led by the first-grade students who process in with streamers and bells, then crown Mary with flowers. Invited guests (moms, grandmas and special friends) are each given a flower at the end of Mass, then students perform a few choral selections. “It’s a sweet tradition that we love very much!” Wartelle said.
Photo: Courtesy Immaculate Conception-Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Everett
Further north in Bellingham at Assumption School, eighth-graders lead the May crowning procession, and those receiving their first Eucharist are celebrated, according to Principal Dan Anderson.
But honoring Mary isn’t limited to the month of May. Mary has many feast days celebrated throughout the year, three of them holy days of obligation: January 1, the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God; August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (celebrated this year on Monday, December 9, with no obligation to attend Mass). Around the world, Mary has many different titles, with many other feast days associated with them.
Last year, the newest Marian feast day was created by Pope Francis: the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. It falls on the Monday after Pentecost. This is an important detail because it reminds us that Mary was there with the apostles in the upper room at Pentecost, praying with them. She has always loved, supported and prayed for the church from the very beginning. She is our mother and guide — full of love, wisdom and intercession for her children. She was given to us as our mother, and the church’s mother, when Jesus said from the cross, “Behold, your mother.” (John 19:27)
I love celebrating Marian feast days throughout the year and sharing my love of Mary with my family. On the Marian feasts that we observe, we place a statue of Mary in the middle of our kitchen table and arrange white or blue candles around her. She is then in the center of our family as we gather for meals, and we customize our prayers (and sometimes songs!) to fit the particular feast day. During the spring and summer, we can bring flowers in from outdoors to beautify the space.
To make sure we have flowers for Mary that don’t fade and are available even on her winter feast days, this year I made pink roses and white lilies out of felt and sewed them onto a white cloth. They form a large circle in the center of the cloth where Mary’s statue can sit in the middle. Now year-round Mary can be surrounded by a cloud of her beautiful symbols.
After all, what child doesn’t like to give flowers to her mother?
Mater Ecclesiae, ora pro nobis! Mother of the Church, pray for us!
Felt flowers for Marian feasts
Pink, white and green felt
Hot glue gun and extra glue sticks
Artificial plant stamens, 2½ inches long
White table runner, dresser scarf or placemat
From the pink felt, cut eight 1½-inch petals and one ½-inch-by-1-inch rectangle (find templates here). Roll up the rectangle and glue the outside end flap to the roll. This becomes the center of the rose. Overlap three petals evenly around the rolled-up rectangle and glue in place, one at a time. Overlap five petals around the outside of the three petals and glue in place, one at a time, at the base. If using beads, sew or glue white pearlized beads and yellow seed beads in the center to look like stamens, pollen, etc. From the green felt, cut two leaves. They can be glued to the rose or saved to be sewn next to the roses onto the white cloth.
From the white felt, cut six 2¾-inch petals (see templates). Bend 3 artificial stamens in half so all six stamen ends are facing upward. Fold the bottom end of one petal in half lengthwise. Insert bent stamens into the fold and grasp between thumb and fingers. Squeeze in hot glue and hold in place until firm. Place two other petals evenly around the petal with the stamens, making a triangle shape, and glue them at the base. For the outer layer of the lily, place the last three petals in the spaces created between the inner petals, and glue at the base. Hold until glue dries.
Sew the roses and lilies onto a white table runner, dresser scarf or placemat. Another option is sewing the flowers together into a garland to use as a May crown or decoration around a statue of Mary.
Prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith
Mother, help our faith! Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature. Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. Remind us that those who believe are never alone. Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!
Source: Pope Francis’ 2013 encyclical Lumen Fidei
Northwest Catholic - May 2019