The Blessed Virgin Mary plays an important role in salvation history. She gave birth to the Savior of the world, and because she was so closely united to Jesus in his life and death, she was also given the privilege of sharing in Christ’s triumph over Satan. In this, she becomes an example to all Christians, reminding us that we are to crush the ancient serpent under our feet.
This becomes quite clear in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which shows Mary wearing a beautiful mantle; the stars in the pattern the same as the constellations in the sky when she appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. Although her mantle is turquoise (a sign of royalty), she looks downward in humility, with her hands folded in prayer above a dark ribbon around her waist (a symbol of pregnancy), as she stands atop a crescent moon (a reference to Revelation 12:1).
What most people fail to notice is the head of the serpent at Mary’s feet among the folds of her dress. Although we say “Guadalupe,” the word Saint Juan Diego used in describing Mary was “Coatlaxopeuh” which means “she who crushes the serpent.”
Pope Pius XI once said that “the rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” His words speak to a truth that the Church has recognized for centuries. In addition to blessing us with joy and peace, the Blessed Mother also protects us from harm. The devil and his demons tremble before her. They could not tempt her into sin, and they know what a powerful intercessor she is, calling us to conversion and a return to the Lord.
This intercession and protection is what one hopes for when praying the rosary. We trust that Christ will not turn away from his mother when she looks upon him with loving eyes and pleads for mercy on our behalf.
“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary,” notes Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. “While invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.” That goal, of course, is her Son, Jesus Christ.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen knew that one of the most profound ways to find Christ is in the rosary. More than a mantra, each mystery allows us to reflect on the message of the Gospel, the pivotal moments in the life of Jesus and his mother. “The rosary is the book of the blind,” he says, “where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”