Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Blessed Virgin

I was just putting out the garbage when I noticed the Blessed Virgin Mary standing alongside the dumpster. No, I wasn’t having an apparition. It was a plaster statue. Mary’s left hand was gone, and she looked a little the worse for wear.

When I attended St. Vincent Ferrer School in Brooklyn, we, like many other Catholic schools, devoted the month of May to the Blessed Mother. Once a year, children would make little altars at home. I’d drape a little table in my bedroom with a light blue tablecloth and set my personal statue on it. On the wall above my bed was a framed prayer called “Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue.”

There are some who think that Catholics pray to statues when they see people kneeling with clasped hands before a statue of Christ, or Mary or Joseph or one of the other saints. That’s not the case. It’s not idolatry. The statue is just a reminder of to whom we’re asking for help or thanking.

Each May, St. Vincent Ferrer held special devotions to Mary. My sister and I still talk fondly of the hymns we sung during the processions to the altar. And, we still know the words to “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother” and “Bring Flowers of the Fairest.” One girl was always chosen to place a bouquet of flowers on the head of Mary’s statue. It was an honor. I was never chosen for that. I seem to remember it was always Carolyn. I wonder if Carolyn remembers.


  1. What a vivid memory the May Day parade and coronation is! I have a good friend, a very tall, Italian woman, who said it was always the short Irish girls who got to place the crown on the Blessed Virgin! But I never got that honor.

    At home, during the month of May, my older sister always constructed the most beautiful altar and we, as a family, including the baby at the time (and there was always a baby), would recite the rosary each night.They always said "the family that prays together, stays together" and maybe that's why we're still so close after all those years.

  2. I so enjoyed this post because it made me realize that when a friend sent me a list of upcoming events and said that something was happening in the month of Mary, that it wasn't a typo. It was simply an affirmation that she had attended parochial school in the mid-20th century!