António dos Santos
In the month of October, the Church celebrates the month of the Holy Rosary, a prayer loved by many saints throughout history and disseminated by St Dominic de Guzman at the request of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In Fatima (Portugal), Our Lady reaffirmed the importance of the Rosary, calling herself “the Lady of the Rosary” (13 October 1917).
According to the Acidigital site from which we take many ideas in this article, the Romans and Greeks used roses to crown the images that represented their gods, as a symbol of the offering of their hearts. The word “rosary” means “crown of roses.”
Following this tradition, Christian women taken to the Roman Coliseum to be martyred wore rose wreaths on their heads, as a symbol of joy and the surrender of their hearts to go out to meet God. These roses were collected at night by Christians, who prayed a prayer or a Psalm for the eternal rest of the martyrs.
The Church originally recommended reciting the 150 Psalms of the Book of Psalms or Psalter. Only educated people could do this, however, but not the majority of the faithful. Given this situation, it was suggested that those who could not read replace the Psalms with 150 Hail Marys, divided into sets of ten (thus, “decades”). This “rosary” was known as “the psalter of the Virgin.”
ORIGIN OF THE HOLY ROSARY
St Louis Marie de Montfort tells us about the origin of the Holy Rosary in his book The Admirable Secret of the Holy Rosary. He tells us that it was only in the year 1214 that Holy Mother Church received the Rosary in its present form. It was given to the Church by St. Dominic de Guzman who received it from the Blessed Virgin Mary as a powerful means of converting the Albigensian and other sinners. St Louis de Montfort states that the story of how St Dominic received it is found in the book De Dignitate Psalterii by Blessed Alan de La Roche, (The Importance and Beauty of the Holy Rosary), French Dominican priest and Apostle of the Holy Rosary.
THE ROSARY AT THE BATTLE OF LEPANTO
A few centuries later, on October 7, 1571, the naval battle of Lepanto took place, when Christianity was threatened by the Turks. Faced with imminent danger, a few days earlier, Pope St Pius V asked the faithful to pray the Rosary, interceding for the Christian army.
The story goes that the Pontiff was in Rome when he suddenly got up and announced that he knew the Christian fleet had triumphed. In thanksgiving, he instituted the feast of “Our Lady of Victories,” for October 7th. A year later, Gregory XIII changed the name of the feast to “Our Lady of the Rosary” and determined that it should be celebrated on the first Sunday in October. Currently, it is celebrated on the 7th of October.
For several centuries, the faithful have prayed the Rosary divided into three mysteries: “Joyful”, “Sorrowful” and “Glorious”. However, in October 2002, the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae was presented, in which St John Paul II added to the prayer of the Rosary the “Luminous Mysteries,” centered on the public life of Jesus.
In October 2016, Pope Francis said: “The prayer of the Rosary always accompanies me… it is also the prayer of the simple and the saints… it is the prayer of my heart.”
(Image: Saint Dominic Receives the Rosary (1524–1588), El Prado Museum)