The month of May is a time of special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Mother of God. In the ‘Encyclical on the Month of May, Pope Paul VI stated:
“The month which the faith of the people is especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady. It is the occasion for a moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world pay to the Queen of Heaven. During this month, Christians, both in the Church and in the privacy of their homes offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance.”
This custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin began in the latter part of the Thirteenth century, and became a especially popular devotion within the Jesuit Order by 1700. From there it spread to the whole Church. Pope Pius XII in his ‘Encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy’ described it as:
“An exercise of piety which, although not strictly belonging to the Sacred Liturgy, is nevertheless of special import and dignity, and may be considered in a certain way to be an addition to the liturgical rites; it has been approved and praised over and over again by the Apostolic See and by the Bishops.”
While there are no official rites for this devotion, many Parishes pray the Rosary before Mass and schedule other Marian devotions such as Novenas to Our Lady. A tradition which is popular in European Communities is the May crowning of Our Lady’s statue.
A simple family devotion during this month can consist of setting aside a place in the home for a small shrine to the Blessed Virgin, by placing upon it an image of the Blessed Mother, some flowers and a Rosary. Each day a small candle may be lit and a special prayer can be offered to Our Lady.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.