Traditional May crowning ceremonies took place over the weekend at parishes where Viatorians minister. They ranged from St. Viator
Catholic Community in Las Vegas, where graduating eighth graders led the devotion, to St. George Parish in Bourbonnais, where second grade first communicants carried out the crowning. At Maternity BVM, students combined with women of all ages in the parish to honor their patroness.
It turns out Viatorians have a special devotion to Mary that comes straight from their founder, the Venerable Fr. Louis Querbes. He prayed to Mary as a child growing up in 19th Century France and he continued his devotion in his religious life.
As the pastor of St. Nizier Church in the village of Vourles, he dedicated May as the Month of Mary, offering special devotions to Our Blessed Mother each day. His devotion extended to conducting public exercises in honor of the Queen of Heaven.
Before long this tender devotion developed into a parish ceremony, and soon adults, as well as the school children and young seminarians, were gathering in great numbers at the feet of the statue of the Holy Virgin, Our Lady of Grace. Replicas of this statue now can be found in many Viatorian sites.
According to research in the Viatorians archives, this practice of the “Month of Mary” spread to all of France. Historians justly attribute to Fr. Querbes the honor of having introduced France to this highly popular and greatly valued devotion. (From The Mary-Hearted Catechist, 1955)
For Viatorians, this time-honored tradition remains firmly in place, nearly 200 years later. Their devotion to Mary and commitment to honoring her with their students and parishioners, remains as meaningful as ever.