So is this a Catholic myth? The best person to ask would be the flag’s designer, Arsène Heitz, who has explicitly credited the passage in the book of Revelation as his source for the image. In 1956, moreover, the Council donated a stained glass window to Strasbourg Cathedral, in the city it had chosen as its base. The window depicts the Virgin surrounded by twelve stars, in a strong blue field.
The date that the Council formally adopted what became the flag is also intriguing. It was December 8, 1955, the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
For a Catholic generation whose consciousness was formed in the horrors of the First World War, the time of the Fátima vision, how could they envision a united Europe except in Marian and apocalyptic terms?
So the EU flag is indeed a Marian emblem with the central figure removed or suppressed. In retrospect, we note how sadly appropriate that removal is for a political venture that seems determined to eliminate all traces of faith.
Philip Jenkinsis a Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University and author of The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade.