If you’re like me, you may tend to keep the Rosary at a comfortable distance. For example, I have one inside my night stand, one inside the center console of my car, and one in my diaper bag.
It’s always there if I want it.
What I don’t do consistently is make the actual praying-of-the-Rosary a priority. Of course, a daily Rosary is not a requirement, it is a devotion. Yet every year, when the month of October rolls around (a month dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary), I am convicted that I need to again redouble my efforts and accept the invitation to intercede alongside my Blessed Mother. And here’s why.
Devotion of the Rosary
In Pope Leo XIII’s 1883 encyclical letter Supremi Apostolatus Officio, on the Devotion of the Rosary, he writes how it is a Catholic habit to run to Mary when in need. After all:
it is her greatest pleasure to grant her help and comfort to those who seek her, it cannot be doubted that she would deign, and even be anxious, to receive the aspirations of the universal church.
Thus, Pope Leo decreed the month of October to be consecrated to Our Lady of the Rosary, a month which also includes the Feast Of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th. So what is the history of this devotion in the Church, and why did Leo see to it that there was an entire month dedicated to this prayer?
The Battle of Lepanto
The origin of this feast day comes, believe it or not, from a 16th century battle in Italy. Pope Pius V had formed a Holy (or Catholic) League which included a number of Catholic states in Italy as well as Spain. At the time, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire were attempting to dominate all of Europe. On their way they killed millions of people while also imposing their Islamic religion upon anyone who survived.
In order to protect Italy from invasion, The Holy League entered into battle with the Turks on October 7th of 1571. A battle taking place just East of Italy on one of the gulf shores in Greece.
In anticipation of this fight, Pope Pius V had the churches of Rome opened both day and night, urging Catholics to pray the Rosary and ask the Blessed Mother to intercede. Despite being small in number compared to the Ottomans, they did have the advantage of not only more firepower, but also of much more powerful prayer. Just what they needed to achieve victory over the Turks, in what is known as the Battle of Lepanto. When the Pope heard of the Holy League’s victory he declared October 7th as the feast of Our Lady of Victory, later renamed by Pope Gregory XIII who changed it to the feast of the Holy Rosary.
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Entering Into the Mystery
If you do desire to commit to this prayer more regularly just ask the Blessed Mother to inspire you! We have a helpful step-by-step guide on How to Pray the Rosary and a study specifically on this Marian prayer: Mystery.
The study is intended to run for five months with a focus on each of the mysteries of the Rosary: Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous, and Joyful. Each of the four mysteries is studied over the course of five chapters, making it a total of twenty chapters and includes a reflection, as well as questions for reflection and discussion. W
hat’s great about this study is that it can be done with just you and another girlfriend, or a huge group from your parish or community! And bonus, there is an Imprimatur from Bishop Thomas Olmsted with the Diocese of Phoenix! In the words of Bishop Olmsted, “When we pray the Rosary and spend time in the presence of Jesus and Mary, we grow in freedom from selfishness and become freer”.
What is your favorite Marian prayer?
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