Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Does the EU flag evoke the patronage of the Virgin Mary?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 27, 2014

Have you ever taken a good look at the flag of the European Union. Twelve stars, forming a circle against a blue background. Does that remind you of anything?

Philip Jenkins, in a fascinating piece for Aleteia, makes the connection to the Book of Revelation (12:1), and the woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The stars on the flag are arranged in the shape of a crown, and blue is a color traditionally linked to Marian devotion.

But wait, you say. The European Union is a determinedly secular institution, whose leaders have quite explicitly refused to acknowledge the Christian culture that formed European identity. Why would EU leaders design a flag that refers to a Christian—indeed specifically Catholic—devotion? Well, of course, they did not. The crown of stars is there, the blue background is there, but the Virgin Mary is not. So, Jenkins observes, “The EU flag looks as if it represents a traditional image of the Virgin, with the central figure herself omitted, in a natural bow to Europe’s Protestants, Jews and Muslims.” And secularists, one might add.

Yet the flag, Jenkins argues, could serve as a reminder that the statesmen who launched the drive to create the European Union—Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi, and especially Robert Schuman—were devout Catholics, motivated by a political vision that was completely in accord with Church teaching. For them, a flag that made a quiet reference to the patronage of the Virgin Mary would have made perfect sense.

Jenkins makes one more observation, which you can file away as a coincidence if you like. The design of the EU flag was formally adopted in 1955, on December 8.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: keelergmom2722 - Apr. 04, 2017 8:55 PM ET USA

    Maybe we should reflect on some fine work by Fr. Basil Nortz of Opus Sanctorum Angelorum on Music and Morality. It is on CD.

  • Posted by: pewialdwyer3896 - Aug. 29, 2014 11:25 PM ET USA

    Is it not possible that the EU flag is a precursor reminding us of and awaiting the reign of Mary's Immaculate Heart? When she reigns it will be the most appropriate and easy adjustment to make! Then the prophecy in Revelation will be a reality.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Aug. 29, 2014 7:27 PM ET USA

    It makes you wonder how the EU could have deteriorated from its Catholic roots to its current secular (anti Catholic) present state. Maybe it was the same way the US has deteriorated from being a Christian Nation to its current secular (anti Catholic) present state, just not as fast as we have.