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The Catholic Defender: Our Lady of the Rosary

In 1571 Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the rosary for victory at the Battle of Lepanto, in which the Christian belligerents included the Papal States. The Christian victory at Lepanto was at first celebrated as the feast of "Our Lady of Victory" on October 7, but was later renamed Our Lady of the Rosary.

Our Lady of Fátima is the title given to the Virgin Mary as she appeared before three shepherd children near the village of Fátima, Portugal, in 1917. She identified herself to them as the Lady of the Rosary. The Roman Catholic Church officially recognized the Fátima events as worthy of belief in 1930.

It is widely believed that in 1214 St. Dominic had a vision of Mary. She is said to have presented him with the rosary, both the beads and the prayers to be prayed. Dominic had a tremendous devotion to Mary and the rosary, which he promoted wherever he traveled to preach.

Add a Hail Mary after grace before meals. Or add a less well-known Rosary-associated prayer before you eat, such as the Hail Holy Queen, the Fatima Prayer or the Apostle's Creed. Note that this could be a special month to read more about and consider doing a consecration to Mary.

Independently from this historical reason, there is a symbolic reason. Ten has the meaning of totality and unity, meaning that each one of Christ's mysteries is part of his total person and work and expresses its unity and totality, as well as its thorough contemplation by the person who says this decade of the rosary.

The Blessed Mother promises that anyone who regularly prays the Rosary, and earnestly tries to live according to God's will, will be spiritually prepared when their time of death comes.] Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.

The black rosary bead symbolizes grounding and protection. When black beads are used in combination with prayer (including the rosary) it calls for the feelings of self-control and resilience. Although considered to many to be a formal or elegant color it is used in a variety of rosaries from elaborate to simple.

A popular German religious manual of the fifteenth century ("Der Selen Troïst", 1474) even divides the Hail Mary into four portions, and declares that the first part was composed by the Angel Gabriel, the second by St.Elizabeth, the third, consisting only of the Sacred Name.

Saint Pius V established the feast of Our Lady of Victory to thank God for the Christian defeat of the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to praying the rosary.

Pope Gregory XIII changed the name to Feast of the Holy Rosary–originally celebrated on the first Sunday in October–in 1573. Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716. And in 1913, Saint Pius X set the date for the feast that we know today of October 7.

The development of the rosary has a long history. First a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms.

Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary’s giving of the rosary to Saint Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic.

One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as “the apostle of the rosary.” He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the rosary was developed to consist of 15 mysteries: joyful, sorrowful and glorious. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the five Mysteries of Light to this devotion.

The purpose of the rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus—his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The “Our Fathers” remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The “Hail Marys” remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The “Glory Bes” remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.

The rosary appeals to many. It is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.


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