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Crowning an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary  
Suzanne M. Lewis  
   

The month of May often falls during the season of Easter. This month is traditionally known as the month of Our Lady. To honor the Blessed Virgin, parishes and private groups often process and crown an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with flowers. This often is referred to as “May Crownings.” This rite may be done on solemnities and feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or other festive days, and offers the Church a chance to reflect on Mary’s important role in the history of salvation and to learn reverence for our Blessed Mother. Children particularly love processions, and the Order for Crowning an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary (available from the USCCB) can easily be used in nonliturgical settings, such as the classroom; however, with smaller children, it may be advisable to hold a simpler prayer service to crown a small figure of Mary.

Unpack your Christmas nativity scene and bring out the figure of Mary (or use any other statue or image you may have of the Blessed Mother). Spread a clean white cloth on your prayer table, place the figure of Mary in the center, and then set white votive candles on either side of the figure. The prayer table should be low enough for the children to see easily what is on it.

Using tiny silk flowers, or ribbon flowers from a craft store, allow the children to create their own crowns. They can either plait the wires (adding new flowers with each twist until they have a garland) or glue the small ribbon buds onto precut cardboard rings. Alternately, you may create a slightly larger crown and allow each child to add flowers or ribbon decorations. Encourage the children to be silent as each adds a contribution. Explain that these small flowers represent our prayers.

Next, take some time to explain that processing is a way to pray with our whole bodies. Remind them of the processions they see at the beginning and end of each Mass. Demonstrate walking slowly and carefully. Ask for volunteers and allow each volunteer to demonstrate “holy walking.” Touch on the importance of silence or of joining in the singing (there are many beautiful Marian hymns—such as “Holy Is Your Name” (Haas), “Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above,” or “Sing of Mary”—you could teach the children in advance if you plan to sing). If each child has made a crown, let them know that they will process with their crowns and be sure to explain that when the procession is over, they will be able to hold their crowns on Mary’s head for a moment and then place them at the figure’s feet. Begin from a fixed spot in the room and lead the way with one of the lit votives. Leave the other votive unlit until you arrive back at the prayer table. You may circle the room two or three times, depending on what feels comfortable. When you arrive at the prayer table, light the remaining votive and place the one you were holding on the other side of the figure of Mary. Invite the children to touch their crowns to the figure’s head and then place them at her feet. If there is only one crown, consider allowing each child a chance to process with the crown and place it on the figure’s head. Small children can be heartbroken if they miss out on this role.

Once the procession is over, you may wish to make the following announcement, “Today we honor Mary, the queen of our hearts, and the queen of heaven. Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, who told her that she would have a baby who would rule over all the earth. Mary said ’yes’ to this amazing announcement and became the Mother of God. Soon after, she visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who was the first to call her ’blessed among women.’”

If your children are older, you may read Luke 1:39-45, the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.

The following prayer may be used: “Blessed Mother, once, when you were a guest at a wedding in Cana, you told some servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.’ What wonderful advice for us, today! Walk with us, O holy Mother of God, pray with us that the world may rest in the peace beyond all understanding that comes only from your Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we offer this prayer.” Invite the children to respond with petitions or spontaneous prayers, perhaps by saying, “Does anyone have anything to say to Mary now?” Or: “Is there anything we could say to Jesus about his mother?” Conclude with the “Hail Mary” and any other Marian songs

Suzanne Lewis
is a formation leader with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and author of Children’s Daily Prayer 2006, published by LTP.
 
         
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