A question that every Catholic should know how to answer
For several centuries the Catholic Church dedicated the whole month of May to honor the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. The following explains why.
Tradition has emerged in ancient Greece. The month of May was dedicated to Artemis, goddess of fecundity. Something similar happened in ancient Rome, because May was dedicated to Flora, goddess of vegetation. At that time, they celebrated the ‘ludi florals’ (floral games) at the end of April and asked for their intercession.
In medieval times similar customs abounded, all centered on the arrival of the good climate and the distance of the winter. May 1 was considered the apogee of spring.
During this period, before the twelfth century, the tradition of Tricesimum or “The devotion of thirty days to Mary” came into force. These celebrations took place from August 15 to September 14 and are still celebrated in some places.
The idea of a month dedicated specifically to Mary goes back to the baroque times – seventeenth century. Although not always celebrated in May, the month of Mary included thirty daily spiritual exercises in honor of the Mother of God.
It was at this time that the month of May and of Mary combined, making this celebration feature special devotions organized every day throughout the month. This custom lasted, especially, during the nineteenth century and is practiced to this day.
The ways in which Mary is honored in May are as varied as the people who honor her.
The parishes usually pray in the month of May a daily prayer of the Rosary and many prepare a special altar with a picture or an image of Mary. In addition, it is a great tradition the coronation of Our Lady, a custom known as Coronation of May.
Normally, the crown is made of beautiful flowers that represent the beauty and virtue of Mary and also reminds that the faithful should strive to imitate their virtues. In some regions, this coronation takes place in a great celebration and, in general, outside the Mass.
However, the altars and coronations this month are not just “parish” activities. But the same can and should be done in homes, in order to participate more fully in the life of the Church.
It is necessary to separate a special place for Mary, not because it is a tradition celebrated many years in the Church or because of the special graces that can be reached, but because Mary is our Mother, mother of the whole world and because she cares about us all, interceding even in minor matters.
So she deserves a full month to honour her