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2 Slyne Road
Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 2HU

01524 32493

St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lancaster – St Joseph’s parish comprises the northern side of the River Lune at Lancaster, taking in Ryelands, Skerton, Beaumont, and Halton. We are a small community where you will receive a warm welcome.

May Magnificat


May Magnificat

Philip Conner

Have you ever wondered why the month of May is dedicated to Our Lady? In many churches, statues of Our Lady are crowned and wreathed with flowers and there are processions to honour Our Lady. Cardinal Newman speaks of May as the 'month of promise and of joy'. May is a time of Spring, when 'the earth bursts forth into its fresh foliage and its green grass... blossoms are upon the trees and the flowers are in the gardens... The days have got long, and the sun rises early and sets late'. After the bleakness of Winter, the promise of something new. The prophet Isaiah spoke too of this hope: 'There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise out of his root'. After the long wait, hope springs again: the bursting forth of nature provides a metaphor of God's life bursting forth into our world through Mary's Yes. 

Gerald Manley Hopkins, the famous nineteenth Century Jesuit Poet, writes these beautiful words in his poem, 'May Magnificat':

MAY is Mary’s month, and I

Muse at that and wonder why:

Her feasts follow reason,

Dated due to season—


Candlemas, Lady Day;   

But the Lady Month, May,

Why fasten that upon her,

With a feasting in her honour?


Is it only its being brighter

Than the most are must delight her?       

    Is it opportunest

    And flowers finds soonest?


Ask of her, the mighty mother:

Her reply puts this other

    Question: What is Spring?—      

    Growth in every thing—


Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,

Grass and greenworld all together;

    Star-eyed strawberry-breasted

    Throstle above her nested      


Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin

Forms and warms the life within;

    And bird and blossom swell

    In sod or sheath or shell.


All things rising, all things sizing       

Mary sees, sympathising

    With that world of good,

    Nature’s motherhood.


Their magnifying of each its kind

With delight calls to mind       

    How she did in her stored

    Magnify the Lord.


Well but there was more than this:

Spring’s universal bliss

    Much, had much to say       

    To offering Mary May.


When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple

Bloom lights the orchard-apple

   And thicket and thorp are merry

    With silver-surfèd cherry      


And azuring-over greybell makes

Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes

    And magic cuckoocall

    Caps, clears, and clinches all—


This ecstasy all through mothering earth      

Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth

    To remember and exultation

    In God who was her salvation.