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``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D


May Crowning

 

As are all flowers, the month of May is dedicated to the Mary, whom we celebrate as Queen of Heaven on the last day of this month. Early in May, a statue of the Virgin at church is crowned with a wreath of roses, and the same are laid at her feet. Little girls and boys dress up in their best, often in blue; one child carries the crown on a cushion to the statue and another child is chosen to crown the statue. The selection process varies -- sometimes a boy is chosen to bear the wreath, but always a girl is chosen to crown the statue (usually the oldest girl).The flowers remain throughout the month. Hymns are sung, too, and especially favored is the Victorian "Bring Flowers of the Rarest," lyrics below. Click here to listen to the melody.

Bring flow'rs of the fairest,
Bring flow'rs of the rarest,
From garden and woodland
And hillside and vale;
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest
Rose of the vale.

Chorus:
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.


Our voices ascending,
In harmony blending,
Oh! Thus may our hearts turn
Dear Mother, to thee;
Oh! Thus shall we prove thee
How truly we love thee,
How dark without Mary
Life's journey would be. (Chorus)
      O Virgin most tender,
Our homage we render,
Thy love and protection,
Sweet Mother, to win;
In danger defend us,
In sorrow befriend us,
And shield our hearts
From contagion and sin. (Chorus)

Of Mothers the dearest,
Oh, wilt thou be nearest,
When life with temptation
Is darkly replete?
Forsake us, O never!
Our hearts be they ever
As Pure as the lilies
We lay at thy feet. (Chorus)

 
The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin (detail), by Van EyckCatholics honor Mary at home, too, crowning the true "May Queen's" statue with flowers at their family altars, and leaving roses (especially red and/or white) at her feet, for the entire month of May. If you don't have a statue of Our Lady, you can place flowers around a picture of her. 1

And here is a beautiful astronomical coincidence for this time of year. If you go outside early in May, face East, and look directly up overhead, you will see a relatively faint "L" in the sky (assuming the sky is clear enough). This is the constellation Coma Berenices 2 -- a constellation, whether mythically or not, that was named after a Queen (actually, a Queen's hair, but that's another story). Anyway, the second brightest star in this constellation is called "Diadem" -- crown of royalty. So take your children outside, point out the star Diadem to them, and think of Our Lady, crowned in Heaven -- our Queen Mother who wants nothing more than for us to love her Son...

 
Footnotes:
1 Tip for keeping cut flowers fresh: re-cut stems, and put an aspirin, a penny, some sugar, and a 1/2 capful of bleach into their water. Change water every day and repeat the above. Keep them in a cool place -- in the fridge at night, if possible. Doing these things really will keep them fresh a lot longer!

2 "Coma Berenices" is pronounced "Coe-mah Bair-eh-nee'-chayz."
 

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