For centuries the Church has taught that the rosary is a powerful prayer.
Saint Dominic learned this truth almost 800 years ago, when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him in a vision. Aware of his distress at being unable to convert more Albigensians back to Catholicism, the Blessed Mother spoke to Dominic and offered these words of wisdom: “Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, for you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the angelic salutation. Therefore, preach my psalter composed of 150 angelic salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”
In 1571, almost 350 years later, another member of the Order of Preachers turned to the Virgin Mary in an hour of need. Pope Pius V began a rosary campaign for the Christian armada at Lepanto, who was vastly outnumbered by the Turkish fleet. It looked as if the Christian soldiers would be slaughtered, but instead they were victorious. Afterwards the Pope established the feast of “Our Lady of Victory” on the first Sunday of October. He declared that it was through the intercession of the Blessed Mother that the battle was won.
Pope Paul VI transferred the feast to October 7, renaming it “Our Lady of the Rosary” in order to remind the people of God how effective the Virgin Mary’s prayers can be.
This has been evident throughout history. Millions converted after the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who told Saint Juan Diego, “I am a compassionate mother to you and to all of my devoted children who will call upon me with confidence.” And numerous miracles have been attributed to Our Lady of Lourdes, the “beautiful Lady” who appeared to Saint Bernadette and asked her to pray the rosary and do penance.
Seeing how the Blessed Mother’s prayers have changed the world is inspiring, but so is the fact that the rosary can change each of us.
Saint Paul says that “Your thoughts should be directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous or worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Since it is these things that one thinks of when praying the rosary, contemplating the mysteries of salvation helps us to grow in virtue. As we reflect on the Gospel message, birth and death, friendship and betrayal, joy and sorrow, we discover how to be better Christians and better human beings. How blessed we are to grow in communion with the Lord as we unite our prayers with all those who pray the rosary.
As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Victory, let us remember the words of Saint Augustine: “Christ’s mother carried him in her womb; may we carry him in our hearts.”