Many religions use beads to keep track of prayers. Our Rosary, a circle of beads, is like a garland offered to Mary because we pray a prayer on each bead. This well-loved prayer has its roots in the 150 psalms. People who couldn’t read began praying 150 Hail Marys instead, the equivalent of three of our modern rosaries covering the original three sets of mysteries.
The story of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is an interesting one. In the 16th century Pope Pius V was having trouble with the Ottoman Turks, who were a real danger to Christianity. After months of disagreements and bickering, he was able to unite Spain, Venice, and the States of the Church in a naval expedition to fight the Turks.
The two navies met in the Gulf of Lepanto in Greece on October 7, 1571. On the same day, the Rosary Confraternity of Rome was meeting at the Dominican headquarters there. The group recited the Rosary for the special intention of the Christians at battle. The Christians defeated the Turks in a spectacular victory and believed it was the intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin that won the victory. Pope Pius V dedicated the day as one of thanksgiving to Our Lady of Victory. Pope Gregory XIII later changed the name to the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The story of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary focuses on the intercessory power of Mary. It shows that when Christians are in danger, they can go to Mary. And when an individual is in pain, discouraged, or having trouble accepting God’s will, he or she can also go to Mary. She will pray to her Son for anyone who calls on her. Anyone who prays to Mary no longer feels alone because she prays with them and for them. Mary encouraged praying the Rosary in her apparitions. At Lourdes when she appeared to Saint Bernadette, Mary had a Rosary. As Bernadette prayed it, Mary joined in on the Glory Be prayers. At Fatima Mary exhorted the three children who saw her to pray the Rosary for peace.
The Rosary is a deep prayer because as we recite the Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes, we meditate on the mysteries in the lives of Jesus and Mary. No wonder it pleases Our Lady when we pray the Rosary.
Image credit: The Vision of St. Dominic by Bernardo Cavallino, 1645. Public Domain via Wikimedia.