June 1, 2021

Bring Flowers of the Rarest

On Mother’s Day, the Sister Servants gathered to crown the statue of Our Lady beside Mother Mary Gabriel’s crypt (pictured below) as well as the statue of Our Lady in our conference room. In this reflection, Sr. Mary Anthony recalls her memories of the May Crownings her family always celebrated together.

The May Crowning was a traditional event in our home, always celebrated with all the solemnity that children’s hearts can muster! Every year at the beginning of the month, we had to make our May Altar. Someone would select a table and find a place for it, someone would find a candle or two, and the rest of us would go outside looking for flowers. Anything was fair game. Everything from clovers and dandelions to Mom’s irises would be ruthlessly plundered for the sake of Our Lady! And no matter how beautiful the bouquets or how simple or even straggly were our offerings, neither our Mom, nor our heavenly Mother ever rejected any of them.

Sr. Mary Anthony and some of her siblings crowning Our Lady when they were younger.

The statue would be brought out and one of us would get to place the crown on Mary’s head while we all sang, “Bring Flowers,” “Tis the Month of Our Mother” and any other Marian hymn of which we could remember a significant number of words (If you forgot part, you just hummed, or thought up other words that sounded relatively suitable). Then it was not uncommon to do it all over again, because somebody was sad that they hadn’t been chosen to crown Mary, so they had to have a turn. Over the years, as nieces and nephews came into the mix, we might crown Mary on several different days, sometimes at the May Altar, sometimes at the outdoor statue, with whichever bunch of kids was visiting. Sometimes we would pray the Rosary, sometimes other prayers, but we always sang, and we always brought flowers.

Sr. Mary Anthony’s nieces and nephews continue the tradition of crowing Our Lady to this day!

Was it as perfect as I am making it sound? Of course not (memory has a way of smoothing off the rough edges!), but one thing I know is that my relationship with Mary was fostered by that devotion in my family. And the idea of Mary as a Mother who is as pleased with my little bouquets of clover as my own Mom never failed to be has been with me ever since.

I asked Mother Louise Marie if I could share my memories with you in the hopes that you might consider making this devotion a tradition in your own family. Even if you live alone, making a special place to honor Mary in your home and your heart during the month of May will surely bear fruit. Our Lady will certainly be pleased, and you might find that it’s a little easier to relate to her as Mother when you come to her “bringing flowers of the rarest” or at least with the simplicity of a child.


Pictures from our 2021 May Crownings at Casa Maria