Mary, Month of May

From Deacon Mark Miller’s Desk

May is one of two months traditionally set aside to recognize Mary [the other is October].  Mary is known to the church through over 50 titles and 18 feasts. The Litany of Loreto lists many of her titles. The month of May is set aside under her title “Mary, Queen of May.”

Marion devotions have a long history in the church, but the dedication of May to Mary didn’t begin until the late 13th century, and even then, it was only for specific dates in the month.  Wider adoption of dedicating May to Mary first began in Italy.  Documents from 1739 speak of special devotion to Mary in May. Eight years later [1747], the Archbishop of Genoa recommended the month of May as an appropriate devotion for the home.

We owe our present form of devotion to Father Latomia SJ, who was in charge of the Roman College of the Society of Jesus in Rome in the late 1790s. He was concerned with the infidelity and immorality among his students and vowed to dedicate the month of May to Mary. The practice quickly spread to other Jesuit colleges, and from there, across much of the Latin church. Rome issued specific prayers for the month in 1838.

The practice of praying the rosary daily during May began with Pope Pius XII in 1951.  Every Pope since then has embraced and furthered the devotion.

One traditional family devotion is the May Altar. It’s simple to do and an excellent project for children. All you need is a small space, a rosary, prayer book, or statue of Mary, and some imagination. It can be as intricate or as simple as you’d like. [We used to make it a child’s project – gave them a shoebox, supplies, and let them go].  We then gathered as a family to say the rosary. You can find other activities here.

If it has been a while since you’ve prayed a rosary, or, if you’re like me and confuse the Apostles Creed with the Nicene Creed, then a Rosary guide like this one may be helpful.

Pope Francis has written two prayers he’s asked that all Catholics recite at the end of the rosary this year. You can read his letter to the church and find the two prayers here.

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