Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Month of May

Icon, "Our Lady full of Grace", by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This drawing is based on the pattern of the "Virgin of Extreme Humility" icon;
however, instead of gazing downwards, our Lady is looking straight at us!

A May Crown for
Our Lady
There seems to be no particular moment when we can say that May devotions to our Lady actually started.  From what I can deduct from various records, it seems that they appeared in one form or another over a thousand years ago.  Some say that they began even earlier as the Church attempted to replace the pagan, and obviously sexual, May Pole celebrations in places such as ancient Britain with devotions to our Blessed Mother.  Whatever the case may be, it seems certain that the pre-Vatican II celebrations of fond memory were begun, more or less in the form we remember, in the 18th century

Scott P. Richert writes:  "By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to a certain devotion. In May, it is the Blessed Virgin Mary. This devotion arose among Jesuits in Rome in the late 18th century and quickly spread throughout the Western Church. By the time of Pope Pius IX's declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, it had become universal. May crownings and other special May events in honor of Mary, such as public recitation of the rosary, stem from this time."

One of the major elements of this celebration for many Catholic of the first half of the 20th century was the singing of the song, "Bring flowers of the rarest..." as the statue of our Lady was crowned with a crown made of freshly cut flowers.  The crowning was usually done by young girls chosen from the local Catholic school dressed all in white and wearing veils -- looking very angelic!

For old time's sake, I am including some of the words from the once-popular hymn and I have also inserted a YouTube video of a choir singing the entire hymn.  I will keep the video in the blog until the end of May for your listening pleasure.  Now, here are those words:

Bring flowers of the rarest
bring blossoms the fairest,
from garden and woodland and hillside and dale;
our full hearts are swelling,
our glad voices telling
the praise of the loveliest flower of the vale!

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

 "Icons traditionally begin with a traced image. Some iconographers create their own patterns. Even though it begins with the same pattern, each icon gets its own look."
A REMINDER:  Don't forget that my friend, Rose Marie Nicolucci's gallery showing opens May 6th.  Go to blog posting for April 17th for all the details.


In honour of our Lady Mary, I would like to show you some more of my collection of beautiful and/or unusual trees.  I feel as though this is a fitting tribute for her somehow.  I mean her Son made them all for we are told in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel that all things came into being through Him.  And, normally, every mother likes to see how much people enjoy her son's handiwork!  So here goes...

Look carefully before you dive in --
there just might be an alligator or two
waiting underneath the water
just for you! 
I think I will stay on the bank
and just enjoy the view. 
(Doggerel composed by me)

It looks like this tree has suffered through a hot summer.  On this misty, moonlit night,
it seems to be to be inviting someone to enter along the path until they find a good place to
stop and rest and pray the Rosary.

These autumn leaves are so red that they colour the morning mist red.  The tree itself is so
beautifully shaped.  I would love to stand beside that tree and contemplate the beauty of
such a sacred-wine-coloured, misty morning!

In normal terms, this is not a beautiful tree.  Rather, it is an amazing tree.  Do you want
to try to guess how old it is?  Be careful that your guess is not too low!  Could this be
a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine -- perhaps the one called Methuselah -- the tree that is
close to 4,800 years old!  If not, it is certainly a member of the same family. 
If only this tree could talk!! 


Here are a couple of trees that are no longer living, but are beautiful to me.

"Life is changed, not ended"

"To sleep, perchance to dream..."



This is mostly what I see of Miss Suki these days!
I look up from my desk and see her back end
as she peers out through the blinds, ever watching
for those dasterly pigeons who exist simply
to torment her!

Suki has become absolutely obsessed with these pigeons who occasionally land on the balcony just above my bedroom window.  I mean obsessed.

When she finally tires of peering through the blinds, she goes along the window ledge to her bed and settles down for a long nap. 

From that point on, nothing I do seems to bother or disturb her at all.  Sometimes she sleeps so deeply that I can see her feet twitching and her ears moving.  Occasionally there may even be a bit of a meow. 

Then, suddenly, so suddenly that my hearts almost leaps into my throat, she jumps up from her bed, slams into the blinds meowing furiously with her tail moving wildly.  The pigeons have returned.

Since I am honouring our Lady today, I was trying to think of how Suki's antics could fit into that theme.  I thought about pretending that the pigeons were doves or that Suki thinks they are heavenly messangers, but I am certain that would simply not be believable to anyone as you all know Suki too well by now.  

So, just for today, I am going to ask you to pretend with me that Suki sees these poor birds as belonging to Blessed Mary and feels keenly her commitment to watch over them carefully for our Lady.  How does that sound?  OK, so it limps, but it is the best I can come up with at the moment.  Any suggestions from you folks out there would be greatly appreciated.

As for Sallie, I am doing just fine.  The connections between me and our dear saint, St. John of God, just continue to grow.  One thing leads to another in the most serendipitous way imaginable.  Yesterday, a friend to whom I had just given two prayer cards of St. John of God to pass along to a very sick niece went home to receive an email from an acquaintance who included the following as part of his signature:  “Love the poor tenderly, regarding them as your masters and yourselves as their servants.” St. John of God.  I feel as though I have truly found a heavenly friend and he keeps showing up everywhere! 

I may be a bent-over, crippled-up old lady, but I can say with absolute confidence:  God is so good.  I am truly blessed.  I thank each and every one of you for participating in the prayers and love that stretch across cyberspace between us and make this blog something more than just a platform for exhibiting my art work.

And now, as always, I pray:  May the peace of God be with us all.  Today, however, I want to add an extra line:  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I just wanted to thank you for your work on the Rosary Icons. They have made the decades more understandable to me. I think you have done a wonderful job with them. They certainly communicate the Rosary very well. I have always held a desire to write an icon myself but just have not got down to it yet.

As I notice on your blog you have a link to a Youtube posting of “Bring flowers of the Rarest”, I thought you might like to know that the following rendition of it was played on our national radio station here in Ireland last Tuesday.

I think this rendition of it is played each year. I certainly can remember it being played down the years. I also remember the our school May processions when the little boys and girls who had made their First Communion that year would all be dressed in their white first communion cloths and the rest of us children would walk behind them singing that hymn.

Once again thank you for the Rosary Icons.