The month of May signals preparations for two popular events, Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan.
Wait, Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan—they’re one and the same, right?
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Flores de Mayo (or “flowers of May” in Spanish) is a month-long festivity held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For the entire month of May, devotees offer flowers to the image of Mama Mary in their respective churches.
Santacruzan (that’s “holy cross” in Spanish), on the other hand, is a colorful procession that recalls Queen Helena’s search for the holy cross. As the story goes, Queen Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (who is history’s first Christian emperor), embarked on a journey to the Holy Land in search of the wooden cross to which Jesus Christ was nailed. Though the search yielded not one, not two, but three crosses, the authenticity of the true cross was proven through the miraculous healing of a woman on the brink of death. A celebration in Rome marked the end of Queen Helena’s successful journey and search.
Which brings us back to modern times and the Santacruzan. Held at the end of May, the pageant-type parade involves a cast of characters from history and the Bible, highlighted by sagalas or reynas (queens) dressed in all their finery. The coveted sagala role is that of Reyna Elena (Emperatriz, or Empress Helena), finder of the true cross. Carrying a cross that symbolizes the true cross of Jesus Christ, she is accompanied by a young boy who represents Emperor Constantine.
What do the Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan mean to us today? Besides honoring traditions and ensuring that they continue to be observed by future generations, Flores de Mayo, Santacruzan, and other Catholic practices bring members of a community together, each one contributing his or her time and talents to making sure a church activity goes just as planned.
That’s exactly what Lolo Kiko wants us to do. “Dear brothers and sisters, the Church loves you!” he said. “Be an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones.”