During the month of May, Lourdes honours the Virgin Mary by giving people the chance to offer a white flower to Our Lady. Throughout the month of May, Sanctuary volunteers will be laying white flowers before the Crowned Virgin on your behalf. These flowers complete the bouquet of prayers offered to Our Lady by all the pilgrims who recited the various rosaries every day at the Grotto.
Why is the month of May associated with Mary?
It is difficult to say precisely why the month of May is associated with the Virgin Mary. The month of May does not traditionally include a large Marian feast like the months of August or December. It is only since the liturgical reform of 1969 that the Visitation has been celebrated on 31st May.
The Catholic tradition of dedicating an entire month to a particular devotion originated in the 18th century. The devotion for the month of May, the month of Mary, was born in Rome in 1724. In this month of May, spring arrives, and life resumes; it is a good time to restart one’s spiritual life, following Mary, “who leads us on our journey”. A little earlier, Saint Philip Neri (1515-1595), for example, asked children to offer the Mother of God some spring flowers, symbols of the Christian virtues, which were also to blossom in their Christian life. The month of Mary has therefore been, from the outset, not only a beautiful act of piety towards the Virgin Mary but also a commitment to sanctify oneself each day. There is therefore very probably a link between the beauty of the flora that unfolds in the month of May and our Heavenly Mother.
The month of May during Easter time
The month of May coincides with Easter time each year. The month of Mary should help us to live it fully.
When we recite the glorious mysteries of the rosary, we go through the three great stages of the Easter season with Mary: the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost.
The month of Mary is an opportunity for us to practise the virtues that demonstrate new life in the power of the Spirit. When we contemplate the life of Mary, we discover the purest one, the Immaculate Conception, the one who did not sin; the Easter season is the moment when we come to realise that, through the Resurrection, we have died to sin.
To Jesus through Mary
Mary is attentive to our needs, as she was to the wedding guests at Cana. She intercedes for us (Jn. 2:3). She brings all our requests and all our prayers to Jesus. When we recite the rosary and we repeat the “Hail Mary”, we are like little children who need to hold their mother’s hand to take a step forward. We entrust ourselves to the intercession of Mary, we lean on her to walk towards Jesus. We allow ourselves to be lifted by her prayer.