A “12 foot long silk flower crown” will be placed atop the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes to celebrate the liturgical month of May on Sunday, according to Grotto Director Lori Stewart.
The crowning event will commemorate Mary’s traditional role in the Catholic faith as the “Queen of May.” It is set to take place at about 1 p.m. near the statue site after Mass at the Chapel of Immaculate Conception. Approximately 1,500 people are expected to attend.
Stewart said the event corresponds with the traditional crowning of Mary in the month of May, which serves to “recognize her model of faith and discipleship.” She explained that the idea for the ceremony originally started on Mother’s Day of last year during a conversation with Fr. J. Daniel Mindling of the university’s seminary.
“I suggested we celebrate Mass and then proceed to the Grotto cave and crown Our Lady of Lourdes,” Stewart said. “His response was, ‘the Grotto is a national shrine, you need to do something more for Our Lady such as crown her!’ I thought that was an amazing idea.”
The crown itself will measure 12 feet in diameter and will be adorned with silk flowers. Frederick, Md. florist Will Stone, owner of the establishment Flower Fashions, will be constructing the crown. Stewart said the crown would remain on the statue for the remainder of May.
Seminarian Tim Mergen will be lifted on a platform raised by a construction crane to place the crown on top of the 25-foot statue, which is perched atop the 95-foot Pangborn Campanile. Mount alumni Steve and Cecilia Gregory, owners of Big Hook and Crane Rigging, will donate the services of the crane and its operators.
“The event will include a beautiful ceremony filled with Marian songs and prayers for guidance to lead us to her Son,” Stewart said.
The Grotto welcomes all members of the public to attend the event. Seminary Rector Msgr. Steven Rohlfs will preside over the ceremony.
The statue’s crowning is the latest in a string of additions to the Grotto, which saw the addition of a visitor’s center along with extensive renovations around the area of the statue last year. Stewart expressed her feelings about her time as director, calling it “an honor” to be a part of the university and the grotto.
“I am fortunate to be at this holy place nearly every day, and I continue to be astounded by the grace and generosity of our beloved pilgrims and supporters,” she said.