Since the 11th century, when a crescendo of Marian devotion began in the Western Church, there arose the custom of devoting 30 days to Our Lady, a time set aside to contemplate her virtues. Called a Tricesimum, these 30 days became known as “Lady Month”, but the custom did not become widespread in the Church until the 18th century when Fr Latomia of the Roman Jesuits specifically set aside May as Mary’s Month. Ancient Romans had customarily honoured their goddesses in the Spring, and the Jesuits thus directed this pagan practice towards true devotion rooted in the true Faith.
Jesuit colleges and parishes throughout the world soon took up the devotion, and it was subsequently supported by the popes. Most recently, Pope Francis wrote a letter encouraging the celebration of Mary’s Month of May and calling for the daily recitation of the Rosary.
The custom of crowning Our Lady with flowers as part of our May devotions is probably more recent: Pope Pius XII had established the feast of the Queenship of Mary in 1954, and on 31 May he crowned the Roman icon of Salus Populi Romani.
This devotion of the May crowning grew in popularity in schools and parishes, but it is a suitably domestic devotion: make a crown of flowers for Our Lady and crown a statue or image in your own homes. To acknowledge the Queenship of Mary in this way, as Pope Pius XII said in Ad Cæli Reginam is to acknowledge Mary’s pre-eminence in virtue, to seek her motherly strength and protection, and to ask for the grace to imitate her love and her desire for peace and harmony on earth.