The sky-blue flag with twelve sun-yellow stars flies all over the European Union now. But what does it represent? It has been commonly thought that 12 stars symbolized perfection and completeness. For example, there are 12 hours on a clock, 12 months in a year, 12 tables of Roman Law, 12 Apostles, 12 days of Christmastide.
But recently the flag's designer, Arsene Heitz, has acknowledged that he derived the design of a circle of 12 golden stars on a sky-blue background from St. John's Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament. Heitz wears the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary and had in mind the passage: "And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (12:1/DRV).
The Miraculous Medal is associated with three apparitions in 1830 to Sister Catherine, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris. Thus, the symbol of the European Union recognized worldwide even by atheists, secularists, Jews, and Mohammedans, is a symbol of the Immaculate Conception herself. As fate would have it, the flag was adopted by the then European Economic Community on December 8, 1955, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary! [Some information for this Commentary was contributed by the Catholic Herald.]