Ave Maria!

Our Lady of the Rosary

3 October A.D. 2010

Our Lady of the Rosary

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Our Lady of the Rosary
Sacratissimi Rosarii Beatæ Mariæ Virginis
Blessing of Rosaries
Rosary and Litany of Loreto Leaflet (MS Word)

“Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that hears me, and that watches daily at my gates, and waits at my door posts. He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.”[1]

    In the early days of the Church people gathered in the deserted region along the upper Nile River in Egypt, where they could be away from the bustle of civilization in order to be alone with God.  They were generally hermits, each dwelling in his own hut, or “lavra,” coming together for Holy Mass, and perhaps to take their meals and to work and pray together.  They tended to light industry like basket and mat weaving, and, ideally, they prayed the Psalms from memory as they worked.

    Those that were unable to recite the Psalms prayed simple prayers, like the Our Father, and Hail Mary—often counting them with pebbles or beads until they reached some predetermined number.  A string of beads was useful, not only to those who could not read, but to those who were traveling, and to those who had to guide farm animals at the plow.  A string of one hundred beads was fairly common, and began to be called a “paternoster,” running the Latin words for “Our Father” together, for that was the most commonly recited prayer.  (In London there is a street called Paternoster Row, where bead makers had their shops during the middle ages—today it is inhabited by book dealers.[2])

    As time went on, those who prayed on the beads wanted something more than just the repetition of a single prayer.  Borrowing from the monks who chanted the Psalms, they set down “antiphons,” very brief meditations that began and ended a small group of beads.  Ultimately, this became the Rosary as we know it today, with the beads grouped into “decades” or “tens,” with each of fifteen decades being assigned a meditation (or mystery) on the way in which Jesus and Mary brought about our redemption.

    These meditation on the lives of Jesus and Mary became particularly important early in the eleventh century when the Albigensian heresy broke out in southern France.  The heresy was the classic error that there were two gods—the good god who created all spiritual things, and the bad god who created all material things.  Given this false dichotomy, human beings were thought to be in great difficulty because they had a good spiritual soul “trapped” in what was supposed to be an evil material body.  Feeling helpless to do anything about their condition, believers in the heresy might commit suicide—or they might give up any  hope of salvation and decide to live a life of complete debauchery.

    Saint Dominic Guzman, a Spaniard, organized the Order of Preachers (a.k.a. the “Dominicans”), with the idea of converting the heretics by pointing out that Jesus and Mary both had material existences that did only good.  Some say that the Blessed Mother herself appeared to Saint Dominic and commissioned him to spread the devotion of the Rosary among the heretics.  The mysteries of the Rosary demonstrated the redemption of mankind through the physical life, death, and resurrection of our Lord—and our Lady's cooperation in that redemption.  Indeed, many were converted, and the Dominican Order with its devotion to the Rosary spread far and wide.

    The Blessed Virgin also played a special role in delivering Christendom from the attacks of the Moslems who threatened to enslave Africa, Europe, and Asia.  As you know, Mohammed and his followers conquered the Arabian peninsula, and then reached out to conquer the Holy Land and Northern Africa before crossing the Straits of Gibraltar to conquer Spain and to attack France.  The Moslem forces also moved to the east, conquering Persia, northern India, and the countries along the southern rim of the former Soviet Union.  The were unable to conquer the savage Mongols, but the Mongols appreciated Islam so much as a religion of violence, that they adopted it for their own.

    Where the Moslems conquered, the conquered people had three options:  (a) They could become Moslems,  (b) they could be dominated, taxed, and restricted in the practice of their religion, (c) or they could die.

Pokrova-Holy Protection of Constantinople
Pokrova-Holy Protection of Constantinople By the Blessed Virgin

    “In 911 A.D. the Mohammedan hordes attacked Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise. The terror-stricken people gathered within the church to pray to the Blessed Virgin. The Mother of God saved them from utter destruction and captivity. St. Andrew and his disciple, St. Theophanius, both from Ukraine, were in Constantinople at that time. They entered the church of the Holy Wisdom where the people were praying all night while the Christian army fought against the attacking Saracens. At dawn St. Andrew and St. Theophanius saw the Blessed Virgin appearing with outstretched arms and imploring God's mercy upon the besieged Christians. She held a veil (omophor) over the attacked city as a sign of assured protection. To the great joy of the inhabitants the Christian soldiers were blessed with a striking victory over the Moslems. On their return home the two saints publicized the miracle among [their] people. Thus the feast of 'Pokrova' (patronage) of the Blessed Virgin was introduced into the Church to denote Mary's protection over our people.” Relatively shortly thereafter, Ukraine and Russia became officially Christian nations. Pokrova is observed on October 14th.[4]

Islam in 1400 [3]

“Soliman II, the greatest of the Sultans, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the west by Luther, had filled the sixteenth century with terror by his exploits. He left his son, Selim II, the prospect of being able at length to carry out the ambition of his race; the subjugation of Rome and Vienna, the Pope, and the Emperor to the power of the crescent. The Turkish fleet had already mastered the greater part of the Mediterranean, and was threatening Italy, when, on October 7, 1571, it came into action in the Gulf of Lepanto, with the pontifical galleys supported by the fleets of Spain and Venice. It was Sunday; throughout the world the confraternities of the Rosary were engaged in their work of intercession. Supernaturally enlightened, Saint Pius V watched from the Vatican the battle undertaken by the leader he had chosen, Don Juan of Austria, against the three hundred vessels of Islam. The illustrious Pontiff, whose life's work was now completed, did not survive to celebrate the anniversary of this triumph; but he perpetuated the memory of it by a commemoration of our Lady of Victory.  His successor, Gregory XIII, altered this title to Our Lady of the Rosary and appointed the first Sunday of October for the new feast, authorizing its celebration in those churches which possessed an altar under that invocation.  A century and a half later this limited concession was made general.  As Innocent XI, in memory of the deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski, had extended the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary [September 12] to the whole Church; so, in 1716, Clement XI inscribed the feast of the Rosary on the universal calendar, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene at Peterwardein, on August 5, under the auspices of Our Lady of the Snow. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Corfu, and completed a year later by the taking of Belgrade.”[5]

    Today Islamic persecution of Christians continues in the world.  Far worse, Christianity and Christendom are in a state of almost complete disarray.  Formerly Christian nations have been made indifferent to God, His Commandments, and His Church—“ecumenism” is the order of the day.  Instead of the Universal Church, we have a World Order urging religious “tolerance,” universal disarmament, and the abdication of personal, state, and national sovereignty in favor of rapidly expanding regional and even global government.  Political corruption that would have brought swift execution in former years is shrugged off as the “normal” and irremediable state of things.  Politicians, thinking of Islam as just another religion, are either unwilling or unable to perceive the threat presented by Islam as it now expands throughout Western Civilization—a civilization that is shrinking because it fails to have enough children to maintain its population in existence.

    Devotion to the Blessed Mother and the praying of her Rosary remain as important in the twenty-first century as they were in the twelfth.  The Rosary is a powerful way to understand the circumstances of our Redemption, to work out our individual salvation, and to keep our Civilization free for the worship of the True God.

“Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that hears me, and that watches daily at my gates, and waits at my door posts. He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.”


[1]   Epistle: Proverbs viii: 22-24, 32-35.  http://www.drbo.org/chapter/22008.htm

[4]  Michael Schudio, CSSR, My Divine Friend [Ukrainian Rite hand missal] (Yorktown, Saskatchewan, Canada: 1959), Feast of Pokrova, October 14th, p.521-522.

[5]  Dom Guéranger OSB, The Liturgical Year, First Sunday of October, Vol. XIV, p. 297-298