On October 7, the first Sunday of October in the year 1571, Don Juan of Austria gained his famous naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto. In thanksgiving for this event, which he attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin through the recitation of the Holy Rosary, St. Pius V instituted an annual feast under the title of Our Lady of Victory. In 1585, his immediate successor, Gregory XIII, changed the title to that of the Rosary, and granted its Office to all churches in which there was an altar dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary.
In 1716, the army of Emperor Charles VI, under Prince Eugene, gained a remarkable victory over the Turks near Belgrade, on the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows, at a time when the members of the Society of the Holy Rosary were offering solemn prayers in Rome. Soon after, the Turks were forced to raise the siege of Corcyra. Clement XI, in memory of this, extended the feast of the Most Holy Rosary to the Universal Church in 1721. Benedict XIV caused an account of all this to be inserted into the Roman Breviary, and Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a feast of the second class. He also added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation: “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.” In 1961, the title of this feast became: Our Lady of the Rosary.
According to tradition, the devotion to the Rosary was revealed to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin. It is one of the most highly indulgenced of all devotions and both a vocal and a mental prayer. Vocally, we recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Mentally, we meditate on the great Mysteries of our Faith.
Medieval nobleman used to wear wreaths of flowers, called “chaplets”, which were also offered as a symbol of homage to distinguished people. The Rosary was originally made up of 150 Hail Marys (in imitation of the 150 Psalms of the Divine Office) and divided into three “chaplets” of roses, called the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious Mysteries.
These “chaplets” were offered to our Lady, who is the Queen of heaven and earth and has a right to our homage. She is the Daughter of the Father, Mother Of the Son, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. The Church urges all of us to offer her a crown of roses, i.e., the Rosary.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II added another “chaplet”, or series of the Mysteries entitled the Luminous Mysteries contain events from the Hidden and Public Life of Jesus, i.e., the foundation of the work of our salvation. For four hundred years, the Popes have recommended the Rosary as the remedy for the evils afflicting society.
The Church wants us not so much to recall a distant victory but to discover Mary’s place in the Mystery of Salvation and to greet her by saying “Hail Mary” without ceasing.
When Mary gave her consent to God at the Annunciation, “she committed herself wholeheartedly to God’s saving will and, impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally, as the handmaid of the Lord, to the Person and work of her Son, under and with Him, serving the Mystery of the Redemption by the grace of Almighty God”.
PRAYER: God, pour Your grace into our hearts, and grant that, as we learned of the Incarnation of Christ Your Son by the message of an Angel, so by His Cross and Passion and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Amen.