Mary, Queen of May
On October 11, 1954, the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Pius XII recognized the tradition already established in the Church that Mary would be afforded special honor as Queen of May in his encyclical, AD CAELI REGINAM. The Pope stated that the Church was not proposing a new truth to be believed by Christians since this had already been clearly found in ancient documents of the Church and books of the sacred liturgy.The encyclical reads, “From early times Christians have believed, and not without reason, that she of whom was born the Son of the Most High received privileges of grace above all other beings created by God. He “will reign in the house of Jacob forever,” “the Prince of Peace,” the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” And when Christians reflected upon the intimate connection that obtains between a mother and a son, they readily acknowledged the supreme royal dignity of the Mother of God.”
The encyclical cites the early writers of the Church called Mary “the Mother of the King” and “the Mother of the Lord,” and goes on to quote St. Ephrem’s, (303-373 AD) prayer to Mary, “Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen, protect and keep me under your wing lest Satan the sower of destruction glory over me, lest my wicked foe be victorious against me.” He also mentioned, St. Gregory Nazianzus (330-390AD) calls Mary “the Mother of the King of the universe,” and the “Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the whole world,”
The encyclical goes on to quote various early writers as well as more contemporary writers and pontiffs. He states, “For “just as Christ, because He redeemed us, is our Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin also (is our queen), on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in our redemption, by giving of her own substance, by freely offering Him for us, by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in, our salvation.”
Pope Pius XII concludes, “Since we are convinced, after long and serious reflection, that great good will accrue to the Church if this solidly established truth shines forth more clearly to all, like a luminous lamp raised aloft, by Our Apostolic authority We decree and establish the feast of Mary’s Queenship, which is to be celebrated every year in the whole world on the 31st of May. We likewise ordain that on the same day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed, cherishing the hope that through such consecration a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion.”
To read the entire encyclical: Ad Caeli Reginam
In 1965 Pope Paul VI reiterated that special honor should be given to Mary stated in his encyclical Mense Majo that during the month of May.
May crownings take place in many Roman Catholic parishes and homes. The rite for these crownings is flexible and can be adapted to differenct circumstances. Often it consists of prayers such as the Hail Holy Queen, Hail Marys or the Rosary along with hymns such as Queen of the May or Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above. This is concluded with placing the crown of flowers on Mary’s head often by children.