May is the month of Mary – 5 ways to honor her

Honoring Mary

The month of May has been set aside for honoring Mary for centuries in the Catholic Church. Many of us have fond memories of May crownings and hymns to Mary such as “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother” (my mom’s favorite.) This year is especially important, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Mary in Fatima, Portugal.

We must speak with great care about our devotion to Mary, as it is often misunderstood by other Christians. Catholics do not worship Mary (or anyone else besides God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) We honor her as the Mother of Jesus – her “yes” to the angel Gabriel changed the world, and is a model for us of complete surrender to the will of God. Just as we may have a photo of our mother in our home, we Catholic put pictures and statues of Mary to remind us of her importance in God’s plan for our salvation. We also know that Mary, conceived without sin, sits very close to  her Son in Heaven, just as a queen sits next to the king. Those in Heaven are closer to God than we could ever be, here on earth (Eph. 2:5) and their intercessory prayers on our behalf can be powerful.

Honoring Mary in our Homes

May is a great time to begin new ways of honoring Mary in our homes. Here are a few ideas.

  1. There is an ancient tradition in the Church of creating Marian Gardens. Many of us have statues of Mary in our yards, but did you know that there are many beautiful plants that are symbolic to the life of Mary? For example, ferns are symbolic of Mary’s hair and pansies (with their three petals) are a reminder of the Trinity and sometimes referred to as “Our Lady’s Delight.” Their are many online sources for such gardens, and it is a fun way to include the entire family.
  2. Have a May crowning. Many parishes of course have a May crowning, but if you have a statue of Mary in your home or yard, have a May crowning. It doesn’t take much talent to create a small crown (I know this from experience!) with small flowers purchased from a craft store. If you have children, include them! Crown Mary, perhaps sing a Marian hymn or pray the Hail Mary of Regina Caeli together.
  3. Pray the Rosary. Many a good intention has has been made to pray the Rosary daily, only to be forgotten in our busy lives. Praying the Rosary is a most powerful prayer  (Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world, said Blessed Pope Pius IX), and Mary herself (at Fatima) promised peace if we would only pray the Rosary daily with great devotion.  If you aren’t sure how to pray the Rosary, it is easy to learn. Again, involve your children if you have any. And if an entire Rosary is too much for some children (I know it was for a couple of mine!), pray a decade with them before bedtime, and then finish the Rosary on your own. If you have kids, make sure they have child-friendly Rosaries.
  4. St. John Paul II credited Mary with saving his life when he was shot in St. Peter’s Square. He had a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, and wrote a beautiful prayer to her. Perhaps your May devotion to Mary could be praying this daily. You can find it here; it begins with the words, “O Mother of all mean and women, and of all peoples, you who know all their sufferings and hopes…”)
  5. The University of Dayton is home to the International Marian Research Institute, a treasure of Marian art, prayers, research and dogma regarding Mary. There is a lot to explore here! Why not take some time during this month of May to learn a bit more about the Blessed Mother?

“Hail, Mary!”

We owe Mary so much! Christ came into the world, fully human and fully divine, because Mary said “yes” to God’s request. She is witness to all of Jesus’ life, from his conception to his Resurrection. Our devotion to Mary will always and only lead us to a fuller understanding of Christ, our Savior. Enjoy the month of May, as we pray the words of the angel Gabriel, “Hail Mary, full of grace!”


EH headshotElise Hilton is an author, blogger and speaker. Her role at Diocesan Publications is Editor & Writer with the Marketing Team. She has worked in parish faith formation and Catholic education for over 30 years. A passionate student of theology, Elise enjoys sharing her thoughts on parish communication, the role of social media in the Church, Franciscan spirituality and Catholic parenting. To enquire about booking her as a speaker, please contact her at


May: The Month Of Mary

In our part of the world, it’s spring. For those of us who live in colder climes, that means we can ditch coats and boots. We can enjoy watching the world around burst into life: the trees’ first, soft green leaves are unfurling, the colors of tulips and daffodils replace the dull browns of late winter, and kids are out on bikes or kicking a soccer ball around.

The church dedicates this beautiful month to Mary. Parishes have May crownings, a long-standing traditions that faded for awhile, but now seems to be commonplace. Author Elizabeth M. Kelly reflects on a May crowning from her childhood:

Once there, and with as much pageantry and pomp as a farming community church could muster, we processed away, singing our “Ave Maria” and crowning our Mary while the angels kept us company. I imagined angels turned out in especially big numbers for Marian events, those “singing seraphim” that seemed often to appear in Mary’s songs. I still think of that church as filled with angels, country angels, angels meant to protect country people, whose days were spent in labor over soil and crops and barnyard animals. Simple angels for simple people, scrubbed squeaky-clean for Mary and the Mass. I still remember the aroma of flowers, the coolness of the spring air, the lightness of spirit that lingered. The promise of everything made new.

May Crowning marked a new spiritual season. Our Mary, queen of heaven and earth, lifted us right out of the last long, cold days of winter and firmly planted our hearts in the warm and promising soil of spring.

Liturgically, during May, the Church celebrates two feasts associated with Mary: Mary, Queen of Apostles (the Saturday after the Ascension) and the Visitation (May 31.)

But why May? And why a whole month dedicated to Mary? First, May is spring for much of the world, a time that marks growth and birth and new life. Mary, of course, was the bearer of Life itself: our Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives depend on the growth of trees, vegetables, grains. But even more so, our lives depend on Christ, who was brought into this world through God’s graciousness and Mary’s “yes” to Him. With that in mind, setting aside a month to honor her makes sense.

(Every month has liturgical significance, by the way. You can learn more here.)

The celebration of Mary reminds us of her willingness to do God’s will. Not only did Mary say yes to God when He asked her to do the unbelievable and immense task of carrying the very God of the universe in her womb and bring Him into the world for its salvation, she is our model in faith. At the wedding at Cana, Mary gave us the perfect way of the Christian when she told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”

We can celebrate the month of May in our homes and with our families. The University of Dayton has some suggestions for involving even the youngest members of the household.

Regardless of how we celebrate May, Mary’s month, we will all do well to follow her example, seek her motherly guidance in prayer, and praise God as she didMy soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.