Flowers for Our Mother: May crownings honor Mary
FORT WORTH — Mary is the most important woman in our Catholic faith. Not to be worshiped, but venerated and honored as the mother of Christ. In May, parishes and schools universally show their respect, adorning her with a floral crown.
On May 7, St. Rita Catholic School in Fort Worth held a May crowning. Mary Burns, principal, said the celebration helps students understand how relative the Blessed Mother is to the Catholic faith.
“She’s our mother as well as the mother of Christ,” Burns said. “Because of her special nature as a human being, she deserves a special place in our life.”
Burns said from the outside looking in, some ask, “Why do we worship Mary?”
That phrase, often heard from friends and family members of Catholics, is a misunderstanding.
Catholics do not worship Mary; they venerate her and ask for her intercession. Church teaching states only God alone is to be worshipped and adored. Thus, Catholics sometimes say that, “We adore God, but honor (venerate) his saints,” including Mary.
“We do honor her as our Savior’s mother. We do take time to celebrate who she was as a human being, and also who she continues to be [in heaven],” Burns said.
Second graders at St. Rita Catholic School participated in the crowning, which is on the heels of their first Communion.
“That reinforces all the traditions of the faith,” Burns said.
Students are taught ways to honor Mary and celebrate her such as praying the Rosary, imitating Mary, following her virtues, and consecrating themselves to the Blessed Mother.
Burns said this is just one more opportunity to share the Catholic faith.
“There are so many things to learn and share with our students but also with our community,” she said.
On May 2, St. Andrew Parish in Fort Worth held a May crowning and dedicated its new shrine to the unborn. The shrine includes statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph with an empty manger.
Students from St. Andrew Catholic School and the parish’s religious education program crowned the statue of Mary outside the parish office to honor the Blessed Mother. [a photo gallery of St. Andrew Parish dedication and crowning is here]
Father Jim Gigliotti, TOR, pastor of St. Andrew, said the crowning of the statues of the Blessed Mother is a long tradition in the Catholic faith.
“Personally, having attended Catholic schools all my life, this has been a part of my own faith development. The priests and sisters who taught us always emphasized the role of our Blessed Mother in salvation history,” Fr. Gigliotti said. “Mary is the crown of Christ’s redemptive act on the cross. She is what we would’ve been had our first parents not sinned.”
Fr. Gigliotti said that as children, the Blessed Lady was presented in the most maternal and caring of attitudes.
“We were encouraged to have statues of the Blessed Mother in our homes and to have our own family May crownings along with the family Rosary. These devotions keep the spark of faith alive; preparation for climbing the mountain of the Mass,” he said.
“Our children and young people are hungry for spirituality,” he continued. “When we ignore our Catholic mysticism, they’ll get that need met in unhealthy modalities like New Age [spirituality], or even the occult. Rich in spirituality, we Catholics must pass on what has been given to us to sustain the pilgrim journey to heaven.”
Fr. Gigliotti said the Shrine for the Unborn is supposed to be in every parish that is gifted with a Knights of Columbus Council, something the late Cardinal John O’Connor of the Archdiocese of New York requested.
“This was to keep the pro-life cause front and center of Catholic consciousness,” Fr. Gigliotti said. “These are part of the constant raising of awareness of our spirituality, our devotions, and our responsibilities to be faithful to what the Catholic Church teaches and believes.”
Doing the crowning in May is appropriate because that month symbolizes new life in the world, and May is during the season of blooms and new life in nature. The tradition originates in the earliest days of the Church.
Toward the end of the 18th century, Father Latomia of the Roman College of the Society of Jesus in Rome instituted the practice of dedicating May to our Blessed Mother, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.
In 2018, Pope Francis established a universal feast day for the Blessed Mother, declaring “the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church,” should be inserted into the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be celebrated every year in churches throughout the world.
May is also the month of several feast days honoring Mary: Our Lady, Queen of Apostles (the Saturday following the Ascension); Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament (May 13); Our Lady of Fatima (May 13); Mary, Help of Christians (May 24); Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces (May 31); and the Feast of the Visitation (May 31).