In October 1571, the combined forces of Spain, Venice and the Papacy defeated the Turks at the battle of Lepanto in the Mediterranean. The victors attributed their success to the patronage of the Most Blessed Virgin upon whose aid they had called by saying the Rosary.
The Dominican Pope St. Pius V had already been zealous in fostering devotion to the Rosary, this "compendium of the entire Gospel", and, in 1572, instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary as an annual thanksgiving for the freedom of Christians from Turkish domination.
7th October became the established date for this celebration.
Four hundred years later, Pope Paul VI recalled the wonderful benefits of the practice of saying the Rosary in fostering contemplative prayer both when times are smooth and in periods of anguish and uncertainty. His words and our present Holy Father's devotion offer a timely balance when liturgical movements and renewed emphasis on reading the Scriptures might inadvertently obscure the devotion's simplicity and warmth.
"Lord, fill our hearts with Your love, and as You revealed to us by an angel the coming of Your Son as man, so lead us through His suffering and death to the glory of His Resurrection."(Opening Prayer of the Feast)
From The Readings For The Feast
"After Jesus had ascended into heaven, the Apostles went back to Jerusalem... and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying... All these joined in continuous prayer with several women including Mary, the mother of Jesus." (Acts 1: 12-14)
"The angel Gabriel... said to her 'Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you... You are to conceive and bear a Son and you will call Him Jesus." (Luke 1: 26-38)
"The Lord made me His when first He went about His work, at the birth of time, before His creation began." (Proverbs 8: 22-24)
"Blessed Mother and pure Virgin, renowned queen of creation, may all who keep your festival experience the power of your intercession". (Benedictus Antiphon, Liturgy of the Hours)
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God: for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." (cf Isaiah 61:10)
Other Writings and Reflections
"The Word became flesh and now dwells among us, in our hearts through faith, in our memory and thoughts; he penetrates even to our imagination. For what could a man conceive of God unless he first made an image of him in his heart? He was above our understanding, unapproachable; He was completely invisible and beyond our intellect; but now He wished to be comprehended, to be seen, to be pondered.
But how? you may ask. I answer: lying in a manger, resting on a virgin's bosom, preaching on the mount, spending the night in prayer; or hanging on the cross, the pallor of death on His face, like one forsaken among the dead, overruling the powers of hell; or rising again on the third day, showing the apostles the print of the nails, the sign of victory, and finally ascending from their sight into heaven.
Is there anything that cannot be reflected on, truthfully, lovingly, reverently? If I reflect on any of these things, I reflect on God. and in all of them I find my God. I call it wisdom to meditate on these things." (From the sermons of St Bernard, 1091-1153)
"O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech You, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise." (Prayer traditionally said after saying the Rosary)
Today's celebration inspires meditation on the mysteries of Christ, following the example of Our Lady who, in a unique way, was associated with the Incarnation, Passion and glorious Resurrection of the Son of God.
"Hail Blessed Mother full of joy
In thy consent, thy visit too:
Joy in the birth of Christ on earth,
Joy in him lost and found anew.
Hail, sorrowing in his agony-
The blows, the thorns that pierced his brow;
The heavy wood, the shameful Rood
Yea! Queen and chief of martyrs thou.
Hail, in the triumph of thy Son,
The quickening flames of Pentecost;
Shining a Queen in light serene,
When all the world is tempest-tost."
(Augustine Rucchini, OP, 18th century)
Companion To The Feasts Of Mary
Published by Catholic Truth Society