In thanksgiving forthe victory of Lepanto, an ancient stronghold of Greece and a modern port ofthat nation, Saint Pius V in 1571 instituted an annual feast in honor of OurLady of Victory. Two years later, Gregory XIII
changed this title to Our Ladyof the Rosary; in 1740, Clement XII extended the feast to the universal Church.
We have related in thelife of Saint Pius V the victory of Lepanto; here we willspeak of the Rosary itself, granted to Saint Dominic by Our Lady Herself in the thirteenth century, with promises of the greatest blessings for those who recite it well. The Rosary of fifteen decades affords a simple means of meditation on the principal mysteries of our holy Religion, and a means ofdrawing closer to the Saviour through the intercession of the One to whom He never refuses anything. One can also say the chaplet of five decades, since the fifteen are divided into three groups of five: The Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious Mysteries of the life of Christ.
On the crucifix, onerecites the Credo or Apostles’ Creed, which the Apostles themselves composed at the first Council of Jerusalem, before their definitiveseparation, thereby resolving the question of what exactly should be taught tothe neophytes. By it we honor the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity and
expressour faith in the Church established by God; in the Communion of the faithful,whether living or deceased; in the pardon of sins, the general resurrection atthe end of the world, and eternal life.
Before each decade,the Pater or Our Father, taught by our Saviour Himself when HisApostles asked how they should pray, includes three petitions for the glory ofGod in heaven: May His Name be sanctified, rendered holy in the sight of
allnations; may His Kingdom come — the interior reign of God which renders Him the Sovereign governing every heart and mind by His love — this, while we await Christ’s own final return as visible King of His Church and all creation;thirdly, may His Will be accomplished on earth, to perfection, as it is inheaven. There follow four petitions for ourselves and our salvation. We ask, under the general term of “our daily bread,” that God provide for all our needs, both spiritual and material; we beg His forgiveness for our sins, in the same measure we have forgiven our neighbor’s offenses, real or imaginary. And we implore to be spared temptation or to be delivered from succumbing to it and all other evils that would separate us from God.
In the Ave Mariaor Hail Mary, we repeat the words of the Angel Gabriel to
Mary (Luke 1:18), repeated and augmented by Saint Elizabeth atthe Visitation
(Luke 1:42), adding the invocation of the Church for Heraid at the present
moment and at the formidable hour of our death. After each decade, weadd the Gloria Patri or Doxology, to honor the Three Persons ofthe Holy Trinity.
The Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation,the Visitation, the Nativity of Jesus,
the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple,the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
The Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane,the Scourging
at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of theCross, the
Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.
The Glorious Mysteries: The Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the
Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, the Assumption of Mary, the Crowning of the Blessed
Virgin in Heaven.
Can one imagine a moreperfect prayer than the Holy Rosary of the Queen of
Heaven, the Blessed Virginand Mother Mary? It would require large volumes or
even an entire library tonarrate the graces and miracles that have been obtained
by its humblerecitation.
Sources: Les PetitsBollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud
et Barral:Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints,
acompilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and othersources by John
Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
Visit our page on the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary for wonderful free ebooks on various subjects regarding the Rosary as well as the Rosary in Pictures.