Guest Post: May Crowning
First things first, many thanks to Kat for inviting me to post here on Catholic Girl Stuff! I’ve participated in a couple of May Crownings, so I got really excited when Kat asked me to talk to you guys about it.
You may ask, what is May Crowning?
Well…it takes place in May! (But I had a feeling that you knew that already……). Usually it happens after Sunday Mass in early-middle of May, depending on the parish schedule.
Simply put, it’s a really special ceremony in which Catholics, in particular Catholic children, venerate Our Lady by crowning a statue of her in honor of her Queenship of Heaven. The reason is, besides the fact that the entire month is devoted to Our Lady, there are two feasts celebrating Her Queenship, one on May 1 and one on May 31.
As with a lot of Catholic rituals, the origins of this devotion are shrouded in tradition. Of course, Mary as Queen of Heaven has been venerated for several hundred years, and crowning an image was not unknown. But the current form is probably much more recent than a lot think.
According to Catholic Straight Answers, “[T]he Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, to help celebrate the Marian Year declared by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987 to prepare for the new millennium, issued a ritual, Order of Crowning an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which captures the significance of this pious practice….” (http://catholicstraightanswers.com/what-are- the-origins- of-the- may-crowning/).
So, it really is not surprising that a lot of people have not heard of this particular devotion.
May Crowning may be organized by the women of the parish, but it is often a ceremony in which young women’s sodalities (Junior Sodalities) can get heavily involved in too.
As a member of one such Junior Sodality, I know how much of a joy it is to put a May Crowning on. I believe that is one of the very greatest celebrations that a Catholic girl to participate in.
My favorite May Crowning was actually my first May Crowning. It was a celebration full of joy for me for a variety of reasons. First, it was the first May Crowning of our Latin Mass Community and our Junior Sodality, which is exciting in and of itself. Second, I was asked by our Sodality leader if I would crown Our
Lady, in offering thanksgiving for my recent conversion. This I did with a very full heart, as I have a great devotion to Our Lady. I still remember taking the crown from the pillow that the president of our Sodality held and raising the flowery crown to my Mother’s head. Oh, what holy joy I felt!
(caption: A picture of the crown I placed on Our Lady. I apologize for the quality, my poor camera had a really annoying focus problem.)
So…what happens during a May Crowning?
There is a basic form, which includes hymns, blessings and prayers. How it is executed often varies
slightly with each parish. So, I’ll do two different versions: a sodality version and a parish version. The black text is for what happens in both versions.
Before Mass, a statue of Our Lady is placed in the Sanctuary, usually near the Communion rail. A small
table is set up beneath Her feet, and a vase is set on top of that table.
After Mass, the sodality members will either gather in the back and process in front of Father and the
altar boys, or will gather at the front of the church and meet Father at the statue (ours did it both ways).
One member will hold the pillow on which the floral crown will rest. A Marian hymn is usually sung at the beginning.
After Mass, Father re-enters with an MC, thurifer, two candle bearers and a cross-bearer and stops in
front of the statue. A girl will be holding the floral crown in her hands or on a pillow.
The sodality member holding the pillow and another member will step to the side of the statue. The
second member will either crown Mary herself or hand the crown to Father, who will then crown the
statue (It depends on the priest. It is acceptable to do it both ways). A Marian hymn is sung during the
crowning, (often a continuation of the processional hymn).
A girl will either crown the statue herself or hand the crown to Father, who will then crown the statue. A Marian hymn is sung during the crowning.
Father then goes through a liturgical form, in which a Bible passage is read (most typically the
Annunciation), the statue is blessed with holy water and incense and prayers said. (I wish I could
reproduce the form, but that particular piece of paper is hidden in my black hole AKA my room).
Another Marian antiphon/hymn is typically sung afterwards.
Two Sodality members will be in front of each of the front pews, each with a big basket of flowers.
Children will line up, receive a flower from the sodality member, and then place it in the vase before the crowned statue of Our Lady. They will then return to their seats. If any flowers are leftover, the Sodality members will then place them in the vase.
Parish children will either process with flowers, or will be handed flowers by women/girls before placing it in the vase.
Marian hymns may also be sung at this time. Conclusion prayers will follow.
Sodality members will renew their annual consecration to Mary using the St. Louis de Montfort
The order of these different steps (besides the entrance of course) can change per parish, but that the
above form is the one that I’m most familiar with.
Which Marian hymns are sung may also vary by parish as well. One of my favorites for May Crowning is “Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above”. It is a very triumphant hymn, which is perfect for the Easter Season
(We are technically still in Easter until late May). Salve Regina, Ave Regina Caelorum, O Sancticissima, are some other good ones, but any Marian will work.
However way it is done, May Crowning is a wonderful way to show devotion to Our Lady, especially
since this is Her month. I hope that every child may have the opportunity to participate at least once in this great celebration of Mary, Queen of Heaven.
I wish y’all a very blessed May!