By Julie Garrison
Some say that the tradition of dedicating the month of May to Mary was created to counter widely practiced pagan holidays. In ancient Rome, May honored Flora, the goddess of blooms and blossoms, and ancient Greece honored Artemis, the goddess of fertility. Medieval times set aside May as a time for expelling winter and honoring new growth, and in Europe there were specific rituals commemorating the life-giving season of spring. Western cultures regarded May as a month of motherhood and life. In this same tradition, the Catholic Church began honoring Mary as the woman who gave life to our Savior.
Jesuits Were First
The actual practice of honoring the Mother of God began in the 13th Century, although it did not become popular until the 1700s. The Jesuit Order in Rome adopted the practice venerating Mary in the Month of May. By the 18th Century, the influence of the Jesuits was widespread, and Mary’s month of May became common with Catholics worldwide.
Some parishes recite a daily Rosary in May, while others may place a statue of Mary at a prominent place in their parishes. The rose is the flower associated with Our Lady, and many people and parishes make a flower garland for crowning Mary as the Queen of Heaven.
Entire Month in Mary’s Honor
The young girl from Nazareth who gave her fiat (yes) to the Angel Gabriel was an integral part of the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus, the first miracle of Jesus at Cana and the passion and crucifixion of Christ. Tradition holds that Mary was also present at the Ascension of Jesus. For these, she certainly deserves an entire month in her honor.