Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The "Little Crown" of the Blessed Virgin: A May devotion


May is set aside as Mary’s Month, a time in which we honor the various privileges given the Mother of God by the three Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity. In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, this month concludes with the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which we recall the Coronation of our Lady as the Queen of heaven and earth, the Queen of all hearts.
A once common devotional prayer, known as the “Little Crown” of the Blessed Virgin Mary, honors the triple crown of twelve stars which our Lady received from God upon her bodily assumption into heaven (cf. Revelation 12:1).  This little prayer takes only a few minutes to pray (it is much shorter than the Rosary) and would be a wonderful way for a devout soul to honor the Mother of God in the month dedicated to her.

The Woman crowned with twelve stars
And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)
St. Bernard of Clairvaux tells us:
“She had on her head a crown of twelve stars […] Who could name the stars making up Mary’s royal diadem? No human being would be able to describe this crown or say in detail how it was arranged. For very good reasons, however, we can recognize, it seems, in the twelve stars the twelve privileges of grace that constitute Mary’s unique adornment.”
We are not to think that there are twelve and only twelve specific graces which our Lady received and which these stars symbolize. Far from it! Rather, these twelve stars are meant to call to mind the whole plenitude of privileges and graces with which the Virgin was blessed throughout her life on earth and in her glory in heaven.
Thus, the spiritual writers offer many and varied interpretations of the privileges signified by the twelve stars – we will consider several possible explanations below.
The “Little Crown” of the Blessed Virgin
St. Louis Marie de Montfort, called “the apostle of the Rosary”, also encouraged people to pray the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin. This is a short prayer made up of three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys. The prayer is said in honor of all the privileges of grace and of glory given our Lady, which are symbolized by the triple crown of twelve stars which she received from the three Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity (cf. Revelation 12:1).
The simplest form of the “Little Crown” is as follows:
1) The Our Father one time, followed by the Hail Mary four times.
2) Repeat this three times.
3) It is also customary to add the Glory be after each set of four Hail Marys.
[many will also begin with the Apostles’ Creed and finish with the Sub tuum praesidium (here)]
St. Louis de Montfort wanted us to pray Mary’s “Little Crown” every day. Here is what he had to say about this precious prayer (True Devotion, nn. 234 and 235):
“If it is not too inconvenient, they should recite every day of their lives the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin. […] This prayer is very old and is based on Holy Scripture. St. John saw in a vision a woman crowned with twelve stars, clothed with the sun and standing upon the moon. According to biblical commentators, this woman is the Blessed Virgin.
“There are several ways of saying the Little Crown but it would take too long to explain them here. The Holy Spirit will teach them to those who live this devotion conscientiously.”
St. Bernard’s contribution to the “Little Crown”
The Mellifluous Doctor offers the following reflection on the triple crown of privileges given our Lady:
“We can easily find in Mary privileges from heaven, privileges of the body, and privileges of the soul; if this set is repeated four times, the result is undoubtedly the complete series of the twelve stars sparkling in our Queen’s diadem.”
Thus, from St. Bernard, we see that the three sets of four Hail Marys may be offered in honor of these three classes of privileges: Those from heaven, those of the body, and those of the soul.
Examples of each class could be: That she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the virginal and miraculous Birth of Christ, her Immaculate Conception. These are only three simple examples, for there are many other privileges in each category.
The Three Crowns, according to the French spiritual writers
The French Jesuit Francois Poiré (1584 – 1637) set a standard among the French spiritual doctors for the division of the Little Crown. He was extremely influential on both St. Loius Marie de Montfort and also St. John Eudes.
Fr. Poiré divides the privileges as follows: The Crown of Excellence, the Crown of Power, and the Crown of Goodness.
“This does not mean, however,” writes Poiré, “that the twelve salutations correspond exactly to the twelve prerogatives I have just listed; others may be substituted in their place, as the particular devotion of the person saying it is to be the guiding principle.”
St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s method
Here follows the method which St. Louis Marie himself practiced [the division headings explicitly indicating the crowns of excellence, power, and goodness are not from de Montfort himself, but were added to his method later]:
INTRODUCTORY PRAYER
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle within them the fire of Thy love!

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit dost instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant us by this same Spirit to relish what is right and ever to rejoice in His consolation, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 I. CROWN OF EXCELLENCE

[To honor the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, her ineffable Virginity, her purity without stain and her innumerable virtues.]

1. Our Father, Hail Mary.
Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, who didst bear the Lord, the Creator of the world; thou didst give birth to Him Who made thee, and remainest a Virgin forever.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

2. Hail Mary.
O holy and immaculate Virgin, I know not with what praise to extol thee, since thou didst bear in thy womb the very One Whom the Heavens cannot contain.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

3. Hail Mary.
Thou are all fair, O Virgin Mary, and there is no stain in thee.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

4. Hail Mary.
Thy virtues, O Virgin, surpass the stars in number.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

Glory be to the Father.

II. CROWN OF POWER

[To honor the royalty of the Blessed Virgin, her magnificence, her universal mediation and the strength of her rule.]

5.  Our Father, Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee, O Empress of the world! Bring us with thee to the joys of Heaven.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

6. Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee, O treasure house of the Lord's graces! Grant us a share in thy riches.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

7. Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee, O Mediatrix between God and man!Through thee may the Almighty be favorable to us.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

8. Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee who destroyest heresies and crushest demons! Be thou our loving guide. Rejoice, O Virgin Mary;
Rejoice a thousand times!

Glory be to the Father.

III. CROWN OF GOODNESS

[To honor the mercy of the Blessed Virgin toward sinners, the poor, the just and the dying.]

9.  Our Father, Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee, O refuge of sinners! Intercede for us with God.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

10. Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee, O Mother of orphans! Render the Almighty favorable to us.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

11. Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee, O joy of the just! Lead us with thee to the joys of Heaven.
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

12. Hail Mary.
Glory be to thee who are ever ready to assist us in life and death! Lead us with thee to the kingdom of Heaven!
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; Rejoice a thousand times!

Glory be to the Father.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

Let Us Pray.
Hail, Mary, Daughter of God the Father; Hail, Mary, Mother of God the Son; Hail, Mary, Spouse of the Holy Ghost; Hail, Mary, Temple of the most Holy Trinity; Hail, Mary, my Mistress, my treasure, my joy, Queen of my heart; my Mother, my life, my sweetness, my dearest hope ---- yea, my heart and my soul! I am all thine and all that I have is Thine, O Virgin blessed above all things! Let thy soul be in me to magnify the Lord; let thy spirit be in me to rejoice in God. Set thyself, O faithful Virgin, as a seal upon my heart, that in thee and through thee I may be found faithful to God. Receive me, O gracious Virgin, among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children. Grant that for love of thee I may despise all earthly consolations and ever cling to those of Heaven until, through thee, His faithful spouse, Jesus Christ thy Son be formed in me for the glory of the Father.  Amen.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only a thought or speculation: Could the crown of twelve stars be a representation of the twelve tribes of Israel?

Homer Twigg said...

I had never heard of the 'little crown' before. What a fitting devotional for this month. Thank you for writing about it.

Good to see your face on the front page of newadvent. The last time we met, you were giving me Angelicum course recommendations at Bar Roma in Norcia. I hope to be back there this summer, and I hope you make it out as well.

Immaculeta Mary said...

Realy,I know not with what praise to extol The Queen of All Hearts(BVM).I love this article and I implore The Mother of grace to intercede for us.

Anonymous said...

i'll always recite this devotional prayer,evey morning after awaking in my bed. And i feel so happy everyday for i know that mama Mary will guide me always.......

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I use this every day for morning prayers. There is one line missing though: "through the Holy Spirit, thy faithful spouse and through there..."
:)
In Christ, through Mary

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