AMM Sydney celebrates Flores de Mayo

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to Our Lady and began from as early as the 13th century. In the Northern Hemisphere, May is considered a season of growth flourishing, and renewal of nature which is closely connected to the Incarnation (when Mary gave her “yes” to God and birthed our Lord Jesus Christ into the world). This devotion became even more popular in the 1700s, among students in the Jesuit Order and when it was celebrated in the Gesu Church in Rome spreading to the wider church. Interestingly, the Flores De Mayo devotion was borne out of this in Italy among the Jesuit Orders to “counteract immorality and infidelity” among its students and spread to the other churches in the Latin Rite. Many Popes have also strongly advocated and fostered devotion to Our Lady in the church (especially from the 19th century onwards): Pope Pius IX ‘s declaring the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, Pope Pius XII in his encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy Mediator Dei in 1947, and Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Mense Maio in 1965. It was in this time, around 1854, that the devotion became an integral part of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, during the Spanish colonization. 

For the entire month of May, each year, flowers are offered daily to Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus across the Philippines. It is also no coincidence that many Marian Feasts occur in May: 13 – Our Lady of Fatima, 24 – Help of Christians, and 31 – the Visitation). During this time the faithful are encouraged to foster and renew their devotions to Our Lady as Mother of Jesus and of the Church especially through the Rosary, Marian Novenas and Processions. In Marsfield, the AMM (Association of the Miraculous Medal) Sydney Chapter, with the great encouragement and coordination of Mercedes Soria, an AMM member, celebrated for the first time Flores De Mayo during the first Saturday Novena Mass (at St Anthony’s Parish, Marsfield) on 4 May 2024, sharing a deeply rooted tradition in the Philippines with the local community in Marsfield.

The celebration began with a Rosary, followed by a flower procession with Our Lady to the church altar, as the Spanish hymn “Dios te Salve Maria” was sung. Many attendees brought flower offerings for Our Lady, which sat around her in a beautiful display of sweet scents and colours contemplating the beauty of creation and the most beautiful of God’s creation – Immaculate Mary.

The Novena Mass followed and was celebrated by Fr Kevin Canty, CM. Fr Kevin, in his homily recalled the great role of Our Lady in the church and as model disciple and the rich history of devotion to Our Lady. The celebration culminated with a morning tea where many gathered for a joy-filled fellowship, cake and coffee.

The flowers were then moved from the main altar to the parish shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal as a reminder throughout the month of this floral devotion to Our Lady. Many parishioners visit the shrine to offer prayer intentions, flowers, or even a rosary to Our Blessed Mother.

It is our hope as members of the AMM that this celebration renews and strengthens devotion to Our Blessed Mother especially as a community of faithful in Marsfield and across the wider community in Sydney, and we hope to make this an annual celebration going forward. Together, let us truly take Mary as our Mother in striving to be closer to Jesus!