And I have good reason to honour Our Lady and honour Mary’s month of May.
Like much with the Catholic church the early leaders gleaned from existing culture.
And that meant transferring the worship of Artemis, the goddess of fertility, to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary, of course, is venerated for her matriarchy and May is the month when Spring is in its fullest bloom.
Now we all have much to be grateful for or reflect on after these past two years.
And what better way than visiting any one of her Marian sites?
And little did I know that Mary has shrines from A-Z around the world.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised because as the old saying goes… when you want something done ask a busy woman.
And so I made the pilgrimage to Knock in the West of Ireland as a child, where Our Lady appeared with St Joseph and St John.
I don’t know what the sell-by date is on prayers but 40 years later I was back for more favours this time, the mothership.
Lourdes is the Holywood of Marian sites.
And yes it has more candles than on a Meatloaf video (ask your parents).
But there is something ethereal about grasping a candle with a cardboard square holder so as the wind doesn’t blow it out.
At the vigil mass at the grotto.
While the huge candles with inscriptions carved out by small Italian and Irish villages reminds us that Lourdes was once just that.
Each Marian site clearly has Mary at its heart but each has its own USP.
My own Dear Old Mum was moved by her own experiences in Guadeloupe in Mexico.
Where she recalled a worshipper climbing the steps of a church on her knees.
And I saw it too at Fatima, though the pilgrim was saved the incline as the altar is situated in a square.
Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina in the Balkans holds ambitions to be endorsed by the Vatican as a Marian site.
Without getting too liturgical the Papacy accepts organised pilgrimages to Medge are OK by them.
Although it does fall short of their authentication of Marian sites. Very Jesuitical.
This year promises to be a special one with suggestions of a Big Reveal.
And pilgrims who crowd around the Blue Cross to hear Our Lady talk through one of the original visionaries are agog with expectancy.
Prayers from Brazil
Whether the Brazilian I broke bread with at breakfast who had made his way to Ilsa will be there to hear it who knows.
But as with all pilgrims he planted a seed for the next Marian traveller (me) to visit the next shrine, Aparecida.