The Queen of Heaven

We honour Mary in May

Easter is over and next week it will be time to turn our attention to the Queen of Heaven. In May, 2002 Pope John Paul II said, "Today we begin the month dedicated to Our Lady a favourite of popular devotion. In accord with a long-standing tradition of devotion, parishes and families continue to make the month of May a 'Marian' month, celebrating it with many devout liturgical, catechetical and pastoral initiatives!"

During the 18th Century devotion to the Blessed Virgin Queen grew among Jesuits in Rome. It became universal by the time of Pope Pius IX's declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the early 19th Century.

Lots of traditions take place during this time such as communal gatherings in parishes to publicly recite the rosary and to sing hymns to the Queen of Heaven. In most schools, a May crowning takes place, where the children gather May flowers and crown a statue of Mary and scatter blossoms at her feet. In some primary schools, a girl is selected from the oldest class to play Mary in a May crowning performance.

The rest of the pupils are asked to pick wild flowers or flowers from their garden at home and to bring them in for the May crowning play. Some families create their own May altars to practise their devotion to Our Lady throughout the month.

In honouring Mary as Jesus' mother, we honour her as our Mother too. Through this month of devotion, we seek guidance from her as we would do from our own mothers. We also seek to love as she loved Christ.

With your family, create your own May altar for Our Lady. Pick a spot in the house, whether it is the windowsill or a book shelf and prop up a little statue or a portrait of Mary. Surround this with fresh May flowers such as primrose, cherry and apple blossoms and bluebells.

Finally place a little bottle of holy water and a candle or a tea light at the altar, and light the candle whenever you visit the spot. Make a habit of reciting a decade from the rosary or introduce more Marian prayers to your daily recital. Begin and end each session with a Marian hymn.