May Crowning honoring Mary to take place May 4

Author: William Schmitt

May Crowning

A traditional May Crowning procession, including prayer and song in Spanish and English, will traverse the University of Notre Dame campus on Saturday (May 4) to mark the month Catholics designate for honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary as queen and mother of the Church.

The annual event, now in its fourth year as an initiative of the McGrath Institute for Church Life, draws numerous participants from the University community, as well as families from the local community. Participants will gather at 10:30 a.m. at Notre Dame’s Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes; proceed to the Main Building, where Mary’s image stands atop the Golden Dome; and complete their walk at Geddes Hall, where a statue of Mary will be crowned and adorned with flowers.

May Crowning customs have spanned generations in Catholic culture, nurturing “a vivid memory and a deep love” for the woman called “blessed” as mother of Jesus and powerful intercessor for God’s children on earth, said Carolyn Pirtle, program director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy at the McGrath Institute. The procession — a solemn carrying of the statue of the grace-filled person who points the faithful toward her son — “helps us broaden our imaginations around Mary,” Pirtle said.

“This is a devotional practice that is deeply human and almost instinctual for people” because, for example, “children love to honor their moms by bringing them flowers,” Pirtle said. Participants will hear a Scripture passage about Our Lady, or Notre Dame, receiving an enduring maternal mission from Jesus on the cross.

“To delve deeper and approach this [procession] from spiritual and theological levels — and to see the beauty and the fittingness of it — makes the human experience all the richer,” according to Pirtle.

The one-hour May Crowning is open to the public free of charge. Families are encouraged to bring their children, including children preparing for their first Holy Communion. They can wear their ceremonial attire, Pirtle noted, as an added reminder of Mary’s desire to lead people to Christ.

The introduction this year of a bilingual format highlights the fact that many cultures honor Mary through prayer and procession. “Love of the Blessed Mother unites the universal Catholic Church, and this event is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Church in its richness and diversity as we gather together around Our Lady,” Pirtle said.

Members of Notre Dame’s student council of the Knights of Columbus will carry the statue, an image of Our Lady of Grace, during the procession. The McGrath Institute will host a reception under a tent at Geddes Hall following the event.

To learn more or register for updates, visit

Contact: Amy North, program director of communications, McGrath Institute for Church Life, 574-631-2894,

Originally published by William Schmitt at on May 1.