By Susana Soto
The month of May is most often referred to as the Marian month due mostly to St. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Mense Maio from 1965. This has since become a time of year that we as Catholics truly devote ourselves to honoring the Queen of Heaven. As a people of tradition and ritual, we have several ways by which we can not only “express in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words” but we also have the beauty of sacred art that allows us the space to move into meditation and reflection. (CCC 1160)
Sacred art, whether it be icons, paintings, sculptures or other forms is intended to “awaken and nourish our faith in the mystery of Christ” (CCC 1192). Among all cultures are artistic representations of the Most Gracious Virgin that are known and venerated, whether it be the paintings of the Immaculate Conception, sculptures of Our Lady of Lourdes, or handstitched creations of our Diocesan patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
We are all invited to be enriched by a deep devotion to the Mother of God (NDC Ch. 1 C8). What better way than by showing our deep love and respect through the ritual of May Crowning? Many may be familiar with the tradition, which involves the crowning/ adornment of an image (usually a statue) of our Most Blessed Mother with flowers during the month of May. Having attended Catholic elementary and high school, I recall fondly the exciting moment in 2008 when I was finally able to be a member of the “court of Mary” – that is, finally one of those people who would be able to crown and adorn our Virgin in as much earthly majesty as the abundance of flowers could offer.
We should take some time in our contemplation to reflect on Venerable Pope Pius XII’s 1954 encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam – To the Queen of Heaven. It is here that Pope Pius XII asserts that Mary deserves this title because not only is she the Mother of God, but also because she is so closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work and her preeminent perfection allows for her immense intercessory power.
Our Heavenly Mother has so much she wants to offer us not only during this month of May, but throughout our lifetime. Allow for the sacred art that surrounds us to lead you into prayer. Allow the most Sacred Images of our Mother, that being “true and beautiful. . . be evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration.” (CCC 2502) Let us take any and all opportunity to pray for the intercessory prayer of the Queen of Heaven, through whom all prayers reach her Most Blessed Son, our Creator, Lord, and King Jesus Christ. May she clothe us in her Holy Mantle and protect us as her children.
Susana Soto is the Administrative Secretary in the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry.