Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Crowning Touch

All the kids and parents I know are counting down the final days of school. The dwindling school calendar is filled with field trips and field days.

This end-of-the-school year talk has refreshed a memory of an annual event that, for me, always marked the beginning of the end of the school year: The May Crowning.

My Catholic school made a very big deal about Mary and the Rosary throughout the year. So, for the month of May we pulled out the stops. By the 1st of May, every classroom featured an altar filled with colorful scented Spring flowers collected from our home gardens. They were stunning. Every day we gathered around the altar to say prayers. In the early years it was a Hail Mary or two. By the middle grades were were reciting the Angelus. Later, we were praying the rosary every day during the month.

The highlight of the month, hands down, was the May Crowning. In the first week of the month, an 8th grade girl was selected to be the May Queen. It was an elementary version of homecoming royalty. On that first Friday evening, parishioners filled the church for the May crowning. Every girl in the school participated in the ceremony: donning a white net veil, carrying a lighted candle and marching in the procession at the start of the ceremony. We lined the aisles of the church while we sang every song and said every prayer that mentions Mary. Standing there with my veil and candle, I felt so heavenly! Finally, the time would come when the Queen and her court (Yeah, she had a court!) would approach the statute of Mary and -- with much pomp and circumstance -- place a beautiful crown of roses on the Blessed Mother's head.

With the May Crowning behind us, we turned our attention to field trips, field days and the last few days of school.

While the month of May no longer means the end of school for me, I cherish the memories of the lovely rituals that were a part of it during my formative years. I think I'll find a bouquet of flowers tomorrow. And, I'm sure I have a little statue of Mary around here somewhere...


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