Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May)

Filipino Devotion Honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary in May

In the Philippines, May is summertime.  Families go on pilgrimage to popular Marian shrines like Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, popularly known as Our Lady of Antipolo.  May is the month where nature abounds with flowers.  It is also a month of harvest for people in rural areas.  It is a time when townspeople gather in church every afternoon in the month of May to offer flowers to the Blessed Mother, recite the rosary, sing Marian songs, and listen to reflection and meditative reading for the day.  The church rite for the month of May is called Flores de Mayo.

Every parish in the Philippines used to have a group of girls called Hijas de Maria, who supervised the daily offering of flowers to Our Lady, an afternoon that ends with a troop of girls dressed in white, marching up the aisle to offer bouquets on the altar of the Blessed Mother.  At the floral offering, the congregation sings the Maytime Marian hymns: “Dios te Salve” followed by “Aba Ginoong Maria.

From among themselves, the Hijas de Maria select an hermana who takes charge of the flower procession on the last Sunday of May.  The hermana is also in charge of preparing for the “merienda-cena” at her house after the procession. 

The devotion to the Blessed Mary is a vital part of Filipino faith.  Along with other popular cultural and religious celebrations, the Filipinos who immigrated to the United States and other parts of the world brought the Marian devotions to their adopted country.  

Many parishes in the Archdiocese of San Francisco with high percentage of Filipino-American parishioners annually celebrate Flores de Mayo.  This year the celebrations, both in the Philippines and in the United States, are much subdued due to the pandemic. Among the local parishes celebrating Flores de Mayo this year are St. Augustine Church and All Souls Church in South San Francisco, and the Church of Epiphany and Corpus Christi in San Francisco.