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May Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary refers to special devotions held in the Catholic Church during the month of May honouring the Virgin Mary as "the Queen of May". These services are held in the late evening and make take place inside or outside. May devotions exist in the entire Roman Catholic church since the 16th century and since that time have been a regular feature of Catholic life.[1]

May Altar in Ireland, - Religious imagery of Mary as Queen of May, work of artist Clare O Hagan


May devotions

May devotions originated in Italy in the in the 16th century.[1] From Italy they spread to Central Europe, where daily or weekly, May devotions take place during the month of May of each year.[2] Some of the devotions are accompanied by pilgrimages. The last devotion on May 31 is often followed by a solemn procession, during which a statue of the Virgin Mary or a portrait is carried back into the church. Some May devotions may take place outside in a forest or a dedicated special place. Before Vatican II, May devotions were more popular.

There is no firm structure as to the content of a May devotion. It includes usually the singing of Marian anthems, readings from scriptures, a sermon, and or presentation by local choirs. The whole rosary is prayed separately and is usually not a part of a Marian devotion, although Hail Mary's are included. The devotion, was promoted by Jesuits and spread to Jesuit Colleges and to the entire Latin church and since that time it has been a regular feature of Catholic life.[3]

Family devotions during the month of May

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Marian devotions may take place within the family, around a "May Altar" consisting of a table with a Marian picture decorated with many May flowers. The family would pray together the rosary.[2] This specific devotion has been supported be several popes including Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ingruentium Malorum:

  • The custom of the family recitation of the Holy Rosary is a most efficacious means. What a sweet sight - most pleasing to God - when, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent repetition of praises in honor of the High Queen of Heaven! Then the Rosary, recited in the family, assembled before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work. It unites them piously with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace. [4]

Mary, Queen of May

May devotions may be different in various countries but the Marian title Queen of May exists identically in several countries as manifested in Marian songs. In English speaking countries such as England, Ireland and the USA, a Marian hymn uses the following text: Hail Virgin, dearest Mary! Our lovely Queen of May! O spotless, blessed Lady, Our lovely Queen of May. Your children, humbly bending, Surround your shrine ...[5] Another well-known Marian "Queen of May" song ends with the words:

  • O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
  • Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.
  • O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
  • Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.[6]

In German-speaking countries, the equivalent word is Maienkönigin: Mary, Queen of May, we come to greet you.You see us at your feet. (Maria Maienkönigin,. wir kommen dich zu grüßen. O holde Freudenspenderin,. sieh uns zu deinen Füßen.) [7] Another similar song greets Mary, the queen of May, who is greeted by the month of May.[8]

"Flores de Mayo" (Flowers of May)

In the Philippines and other countries, Mary is greeted with the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May). The Faithful collect colorful flowers to decorate the Parish Church altars and aisles.[9] "Flores De Mayo" is celebrated in many towns. The communities congregate in the afternoons to pray the rosary, offer flowers to the Virgin Mary, and share homemade delicacies and snacks. Children and adults wearing their Sunday best, sing and dance to welcome the rains that will water the new crops.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b -
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ingruentium Marlorum 13
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Maria, Maienkönigin, dich will der Mai begrüßen. O segne ihn mit holdem Sinn ..." - 23k
  9. ^ a b

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