Amidst Catholics, May is most well-known as the Month of Mary. It is a specific month of the year when special devotions are carried out in the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Why is it so? How did the month of May become associated with the Blessed Mother?
There are many different factors that gave birth to this association. Firstly, in ancient Greece and Rome the month of May was dedicated to pagan goddesses connected to fertility and springtime (Artemis and Flora, respectively).
This, in combination with other European rituals commemorating the new season of spring, made many Western cultures to take May as a month of life and motherhood.
This happened before “Mother’s Day” was ever conceived, though the modern celebration is nearly related to this innate desire to honor maternity during the spring months.
In the days of the early Church there is evidence of a major feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated on the 15th of May each year, but it wasn’t so until the 18th century that May received a particular association with the Virgin Mary. In accordance with the Catholic Encyclopedia , “The May devotion in its present form have it’s origin at Rome where Father Latomia of the Roman College of the Society of Jesus, as to counteract infidelity and immorality among the students, vowed at the end of the eighteenth century to devote the month of May to Our Mother Mary.
From Rome the practice spread to the other Jesuit colleges and from then, to nearly every Catholic church of the Latin rite.”
To dedicate an entire month to Mary wasn’t a new tradition, as there existed a previous tradition of devoting 30 days to Mary called Tricesimum, which was also known as “Lady Month.”
So many private devotions to Mary quickly became widespread during the month of May, as it is recorded in the Raccolta, a publication of prayers which was published in the mid-19th century.
The consecration of the month of May to the Most Holy Mother Mary, is a well-known devotion as the most beautiful and florescent month of the whole year.
This devotion has prevailed throughout Christendom in a long time; and it is common in Rome, not only in private families, but as a public devotion in very many churches.
We need to animate all Christian people to the practice of a devotion so tender and agreeable to the most blessed Virgin, and as this devotion is calculated to be of such great spiritual benefit to themselves, and to all the faithful of the Catholic world, who either in public or in private should honour the Blessed Virgin with some special homage or devout prayers, or other virtuous practices.
Pope Pius XII solidified May as a Marian month in 1945 after establishing the feast of the Queenship of Mary on May 31st. So, after the Second Vatican Council, this feast was moved to August 22, as May 31st became the feast of the Visitation of Mary.
The month of May is so rich in tradition and a beautiful time of the year to honor our heavenly Mother.