The Feast of the Holy Rosary of the Virgin Mary
Just as each day we are receiving new favors and new benefits from the Blessed Virgin, so also the Holy Church is careful to manifest our due recognition to us, instituting new solemnities, seeking to excite and increase every day the tender devotion of the faithful with private parties. The motive or the occasion of the solemnity of this day was one of the most favored favors received by Christendom by the powerful intercession of the Mother of God, while the Turks, proud of the great conquests they made every day on Christians , nothing less promised to take over the whole of Europe, and raise its crescent over the dome of St. Peter's Church in the capital of the Christian world. It had been more than a century since the Turks had filled with terror to all Christendom by a continuous series of victories that God allowed them, to punish the sins of Christians, and to re-excite in their cold hearts the half-faded faith. In the year of 1521 Soliman II was seized [Note of the transcriptor: Actually was Suleiman first] of the place of Belgrade; the one of 1522 became owner of the Island of Rhodes; and thinking only of dilating his conquests to the extent of his ambition, Hungary entered the year 1526; won the battle of Mohaes; he seized Buddha, Pest, Great, and some other places; penetrated as far as Vienna from Austria; took and sacked Tauris; and by means of its generals yielded with arms the other provinces of Europe. His son and successor Selim II conquered the island of Cyprus in the year 1571; put in the sea the largest and most formidable armada that had seen that monster on its back, flattering itself to be master with her no less than of all Italy. A great part of Christendom is astonished, he considered that his fortune depended on the dubious fate of a battle. The navy of the Christians was far inferior to that of the Turks, and victory could not be promised except with the assistance of heaven. This was achieved through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, under whose protection the Holy Pontiff, Saint Pius V, had placed the fleet. This memorable battle was fought, the most celebrated of which the Christians had won at sea on October 7, 1571.
The Battle of Lepanto, 1571 A.D.
The Turks were anchored at Lepanto, when they heard that the Christians, coming out of the port of Corfu, came to lie down on them. They had such a low opinion of the Christian army that they never believed they had the courage to present the combat. They knew a fixed point the number of ships of which it was composed; but they did not know that they came to fight under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, in whom, after God, they had placed their trust; and so they were strangely surprised when they were informed that the naval navy of the Christians had already gained the height of the island of Kefalonia. Accustomed to the Turks after so much time to defeat and defeat the Christians, they celebrated their intrepid closeness as a sure omen of a complete victory. Superiors in troops and ships, they raised anchors to close the passage with the intention of cutting them and of wrapping them; so that not a single one escaped to bring the news of its defeat. The Ottoman army, commanded by Ali Pasha, was barely visible when the Christian army, under the title of Generalissimo, commanded Don Juan de Austria, the natural brother of Philip II, King of Spain, along with Marco Antonio Colona, General of the pontifical squad, raising an earnest cry, invoked the intersection of the Blessed Virgin, his sovereign protector.
The Intercession of the Virgin Mary in The Battle of Lepanto
The two armies were at a distance of twelve miles when the signal of combat was given, and the standard that the two commanders had received in Naples from their Holiness was raised. As soon as the image of Christ crucified, which was embroidered on the papal banner, was discovered, when the whole army greeted with great shouts of joy; and making a sign of the prayer, all the officers and all soldiers worshiped on their knees the image of the crucifix: a truly tender and religious spectacle to see the officer and the soldier armed to fight at the feet of Jesus Christ, imploring his assistance to defeat the infidels through the intercession of his mother the Blessed Virgin, whose image was venerated on board all the vessels. Meanwhile, the two armies were approaching, favored by the wind the Turkish block, a circumstance that gave much body to the startle and fear. The Christians then returned with greater fervor to the sovereign Queen, under whose auspices they were to fight, and suddenly changing the wind, began to blow them sternly with such happiness, that all the smoke of the artillery loaded on the Ottoman squad, moving which everyone described as miraculous, receiving it as a visible proof of heaven's assistance. The two armies were found by gunfire on October 7, and there was such a terrible fire on both sides that for a long time the air was darkened with the density of the smoke. For three hours the stubborn combat with courage and with almost equal advantage of one or another of the combatants had lasted, when Christians, more confident in the protection of heaven than in the efforts of their heart and arm, observed that the Turks began to yield, and that they were retiring towards the coast. When our generals increased their confidence and their fire, they made new fire on the Turkish captain; killed Ali Pasha, boarded his galley and ripped off the banner. Don Juan of Austria commanded at this time that all should shout victory, and from that time onwards, ceasing to be combat, began to be a horrible carnage in the unhappy Turks, who allowed themselves to be slaughtered without resistance. Thirty thousand men lost these in that celebrated battle, one of the bloodiest for them that had never known since the foundation of the Ottoman empire. The Christians made five thousand prisoners, among them were two sons of Hali, and became masters of one hundred and thirty Turkish galleys; but of the other ninety they perished or fell to the coast, either going to the bottom or consumed by the fire; almost twenty thousand Christians were liberated by this triumphant victory, and in the fleet of these there was so few people that the whole world visibly recognized the assistance of heaven and acclaimed the miraculous miracle. The whole city of Constantinople was dismayed, as if the enemy were already at the door, and the Turks gave their treasures to the Christians, begging them, when they became masters of the city and empire, to forgive their lives and treat them with pity.
The Holy Pontiff Pius V was revealed to victory on the same point as the Turks were defeated; so firmly persuaded that it had been the effect of the particular protection of the Blessed Virgin, who instituted this feast with the name of Our Lady of Victory, as announced by the Roman martyrology by these terms: On the same day October 7, the commemoration of Our Lady of Victory, a feast that the Holy Pope Pius V instituted in thanksgiving for the glorious victory that the Christians of the Turks achieved on this day in a naval battle for the particular protection of the Blessed Virgin. In order to pave more particularly the powerful protection of this Lady in favor of Christian arms on such a dangerous occasion, the Holy Pontiff had used the devotion of the Holy Rosary, so much to the liking of the sovereign Queen, and already very old in the Church of God, and so he ordered that the feast of Our Lady of Victory be at the same time the solemnity of the Holy Rosary. No less convinced by Pope Gregory XIII that the battle of Lepanto, won against the Turks, was due to this celebrated devotion, ordered, in recognition of the Blessed Virgin, to perpetually celebrate the solemnity of the Rosary on the first Sunday of October in all the churches where this most devout brotherhood was erected.
Clement XI, one of the pontiffs who governed the Church of God with greater zeal, with greater prudence and with greater dignity, news of the victory that the troops of the emperor obtained of the Turks on the day of Our Lady of the Snows 5 of August of 1716, near Salakemen, known by the name of the battle of Selim, one of the most complete that until now have been won against the infidels, for they lost in it more than thirty thousand Turks, who remained lying in the field of battle, not counting the prisoners, all their artillery, their stores, their baggage, provisions, the chancery, the military box, two horsetails, all their flags and banners; recognizing very well that this victory was due to the special protection of the Blessed Virgin, he ordered of course to sing a solemn Mass in Santa Maria Maggiore in thanksgiving of such an outstanding benefit. To this immediately followed another in no less inferior to the first, which was to have raised the siege of Corfu on the day of the octave of the Assumption, 22 of the same month and year. The Pope was grateful to this double protection, after having published a plenary indulgence in St. Mary of Victory, and sent the banners which were taken from the Turks to St. Mary Major and Loreto, he commanded that the feast of the Rosary, limited to then to the churches of the Dominican fathers and to those where there was a cofradia of this invocation, henceforth to be a solemn feast of precept for the whole universal Church on the first Sunday of October; very persuaded that the devotion of the Rosary was the most effective and proper way of thanking the Blessed Virgin for the favors received for her powerful protection and for pledging her to give us new and old ones every day. Our Lady of the Rosary with St. Dominick and St. Rose of Lima
Our Lady of the Rosary with St. Dominic and St. Rose of Lima
It is well known that this method of prayer is due to the great St. Dominic, who established this admirable devotion in consequence of a vision with which the Blessed Virgin favored him in the year 1208 while at the same time preaching against the errors of the Albigenses. One day the saint was in fervent prayer in the chapel of Our Lady of Provilla, and the Mother of Mercy appeared to him, saying: That, having been the angelic salutation as the beginning of the redemption of the human race, it was also of the conversion of the heretics and of the victory against the infidels; that, therefore, preaching the devotion of the Rosary, which is composed of one hundred and fifty Hail Marys, as the psalter of one hundred and fifty psalms, would experience miraculous events in his labors, and a continual series of victories against heresy. The sovereign precept obeyed St. Dominic; and instead of stopping, as it had hitherto done in disputes and controversies, which are usually of little fruit, it did nothing else than to preach the greatness and excellences of the Mother of God, explaining to the peoples the merit , the utilities and the practical method of the Holy Rosary. Then the excellence of this admirable devotion was felt; the greatest proof of its marvelous efficacy being the conversion of more than one hundred thousand heretics and the change of life of a prodigious number of sinners drawn to true penance and uprooted from their inveterate customs. This was, speaking in propriety, the true epoch of the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary and its famous confraternity, so celebrated in all the Christian world, authorized by so many great pontiffs, with so many and so singular privileges, and already considered as a happy sign of predestination with respect to all their brethren.
Indeed, what devotion can be most pleasing in the eyes of God, or what more effective prayer to deserve the protection of the Blessed Virgin? Our Father, or the Sunday prayer, which is repeated in it so many times, taught us Jesus Christ himself; the angelic salutation, which is prayed one hundred and fifty, is composed of the same words of the angel, and of which St. Elizabeth pronounced when the Virgin visited her; the prayer that accompanied it is prayer of the Church. It consists of the whole rosary of fifteen tenths of Ave Maria, and of our fifteen Father. The first five are of the five joyful mysteries, the five seconds of the sorrowful, and the five third of the glorious ones that were so much consolation for the Blessed Virgin. The joyful mysteries are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth of Christ, the Purification, and the lost Jesus Christ found in the temple in the midst of the doctors. The sorrowful mysteries are the prayer of the garden, the passage of whips, the crowning of thorns, the cross and the crucifixion of the Savior on Mount Calvary. The glorious mysteries are the Resurrection, and appearance to her most holy Mother, her ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the triumphant Ascension of Mary in body and soul to the heavens, and her coronation in glory. By the meditation of these mysteries the rosary is one of the most holy prayers of the Church, in which, according to the words, a heart is accorded to God a perfect cult of religion; and yielding to Mary the tribute she owes him, earns her heart, and is compelled to shed upon her faithful servants that abundance of blessings and those treasures of graces, the distribution of which she is responsible for.
But this method of repeating the same prayer many times should not be believed; was already widely used of all saints, both new and Old Testament. There is nothing more ordinary than these repetitions in the psalms of David. The chant or psalm 135 is but a repetition of the preceding psalm with this as chorus: Quoniam in aeternum misericordia ejus, because his mercy is eternal. Perhaps the people would repeat this refrain after the Levites uttered the first part of the verse; to the way, more or less, that we do it in the litanies. The Gospel warns us that Jesus Christ repeated many times the same prayer to the Eternal Father in the garden of Olives: Eudem sermonem dicens (Matthew 16). St. Bartholomew refers to prayer a hundred times a day and a few at night. Palladio and Sozomeno tell us that Paul, abbot of Monte Fermeo, in Libya, who flourished in the time of San Antonio, three hundred times a day a single prayer, bearing the account for another so many pebbles that he brought with him for this purpose. It is assured that Peter the Hermit, wishing to dispose the peoples for holy war in 1096, exhorted them to pray every day a number of our Fathers, with one hundred and fifty Hail Marys, for the happy event of such an important enterprise, certifying them who had learned this devotion from the most solitary saints of Palestine, among whom it was already very ancient. Pope Leo IV wanted all the soldiers who had thrown out of the gates of Rome to the Saracens, to bring a rosary of fifty Hail Marys, attributing to this prayer the triumphant victory they obtained from the infidels. On April 7th we read in Surio, that St. Albert, a religious of Crespin, up to a hundred and fifty genuflections, praying to each one the angelic salutation; and when the body of Santa Gertrudis, who died in 667, was buried in the tomb, some beaded beads, which seemed part of a rosary, with which the saint wanted her to be buried. All this proves how ancient the devotion of the Rosary is in the Church of God; but nevertheless, to St. Dominic we owe not only his resurrection [of the devotion of the Rosary], to explain me in this way, but the celestial method of praying to him and honoring with him the Mother of God that is now practiced; and to the fervent zeal of her enlightened family, no less than to the fervent devotion that professes the Queen of Angels, owe the marvelous progress that this most important devotion has made. It is well to be sure that among all the cults that are paid in the Church to the Mother of God, one of those who honor her most is the devotion of the Rosary. It is true that for the Blessed Virgin there was nothing more glorious than the embassy of the angel when it came to announce that it was to be the Mother of God, therefore, whenever this salutation is repeated to her, it seems that in some way the work is exercised and the commission of the angel; and what has no doubt is that, as it were, the incomparable honor he received in that divine election is brought to his memory: it seems that no devotion can be more pleasing to him. Let prayer and meditation be reciprocally helped, St. Bernard says, with prayer being a resplendent ax, which imparts light and ardor to meditation; Oratio et meditatio sibi invicul copulantur, et per orationem illuminatur meditatio. All this is united in the Rosary; and therefore, no doubt, said the blessed Alano de la Rupe [Roche], that the Rosary was the most outstanding, and as the queen of all devotions: Regina ómnium oratiunum (in Compl. Psalt. For the same reason, it is rightly applied to the Rosary what St. John Chrysostom says of the frequent and often repeated prayer: Aptissima arma oratio est, thesaurus certé perpetuus, divitiae inexhaustae. This prayer is a shield against all the blows of the enemy, an infinite treasure, an inexhaustible fund of spiritual riches.
It can not be doubted that, among all the vocal prayers with which the Church honors the Blessed Virgin, one of the most holy and most pleasing to God is the Rosary, composed of the two most sacred prayers; it is convenient to know of the Sunday prayer and the angelic salutation, accompanying at the same time with many meditations on the life and death of the Savior and his Blessed Mother. Everything is mysterious in the Rosary, to the same number of one hundred and fifty Hail Marys, by which is also called the psalter of the Virgin. The heretics of all ages, as enemies of the Mother as of the Son, blasphemed against this devotion many times; but particularly those of these last times raged furiously against the Rosary. As this devotion was so fatal to the Albigensians, it was precisely to be the object of the hatred and imprecations of their unhappy descendants, who have not omitted any means of discrediting it; but all their efforts have served only to increase the number of their brethren and their devotees. No confraternity of the Virgin in more celebrated than this, no more profitable to the faithful, none more authorized by the Church. Twelve or thirteen pontiffs have passed with pious profusion the spiritual treasures of which they are depositaries: kings and peoples have hurried with eager devotion to enlist in it. But what victories have been achieved against the enemies of the faith, what reform of customs, what exemplary edification has not been seen in all the states since it spread in the world is a solid devotion? Even in life his holy founder and restorer saw it spread with marvelous fruit in Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Muscovy, and even in the islands of the Archipelago. But much greater progress was made by the heirs of the zeal and virtues of the great patriarch Santo Domingo. Blessed Alano de Rupe preached the Rosary in all the northern countries with such a happy event that the cult and devotion of the Blessed Virgin flourished in all the universe. The brotherhood of the Rosary was founded in all the cities of Christendom. to Pope Sixtus V to enrich it even with greater graces and privileges than its predecessors, as can be seen in the bull issued in 1586, so honorable and of a spiritual utility to all the brethren.
The title of Our Lady of Victory is older than the Battle of Lepanto. From the tender age of the Church the Christians experienced the special protection of the Blessed Virgin against the arms of the enemies of the faith; and for this special protection was begun to surname Our Lady of Victory. In the famous site of Rhodes, so gloriously defended in 1480 by the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, now knights of Malta, being the great master the famous Peter Aubuson, against all the forces of the Ottoman Empire, in the time of Mehmed II, terror of the whole Christian world; after the knights had forced the Turks to lift the siege, many deserters, who had passed on to the knights' camp, when their victorious troops re-entered the square, reported that in the heat of battle the Turks had been seen in the region of a golden cross surrounded by a glittering light, and at the same time a beautiful lady, whose suit was whiter than the snow itself, with a spear in her right hand, and in the sinister arm a rodela, accompanied by a man serious and severe, dressed in camel skins, followed by a troupe of young warriors, all armed with swords of fire; and the vision, they added, filled the infidels with terror, so much so that when the banner of the Maltese religion was displayed, in which the images of the Virgin and of St. John the Baptist were painted, many Turks fell dead on land without having received injury or blow from the enemy. After the great master was completely cured of his wounds, he vowed to erect a sumptuous church with the dedication of Our Lady of Victory, in whose magnificent work was worked immediately that the fortifications of the square were repaired.
Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917 and chose the title of the Virgin of the Rosary
1. Although all Christians should be commended to the Blessed Virgin in general as the most powerful help to live holy, as the surest way to have an entrance with God, and finally, as one of the signs less equivocal of predestination, it may well be assured that among all the devotions which the Holy Spirit inspired the faithful to render to this Lady the worship due to her, to pray the Rosary with those affections that conform to her institution is a of the authentic and the most pleasing to the sovereign Queen. By virtue of this, few men have been, or recommended for their holiness, or respected for their character, for their wisdom, or for their dignity, who have not been zealous promoters of this most solid devotion. How many princes, how many kings, how many high pontiffs have been honored with the title of brothers and sisters of Mary? If you have the same honor, if you make the fortune of being enlisted in the Brotherhood of the Rosary, it is extremely accurate in fulfilling all the obligations it imposes on its individuals; and above all, to pray unfailingly every day at least a part of it. But if you have not entered into this confraternity, do not deprive yourself of such great good: enter it without delay, and you will experience, particularly at the hour of death, how much you have cared for this devotion. 2. Do not neglect any pious exercise of the innumerable ones that have been invented to honor and to give to the Blessed Virgin; practice as many as you can, and feel more inclined. Because you have multiplied so much, you will be less excusable. Let no day pass without a special prayer to the sovereign Queen. It is very devout that Augustine did, and you can do it either at the end of the Rosary, or at any other time of day.
Oh Blessed Virgin Mary, who can graciously give you the due graces, nor the praises for having protected the lost world with your singular consent? What praise can you give our human frailty, remembering that only your conduit found the way to reparation? Receive, therefore, benign these such graces that we tax you, although so short, but so inferior to your sovereign merits; and at the same time you admit, by your goodness, our vows, excuse with your intercession our faults. Lay our supplications in the tabernacle of your benignity, and repent piously with the antidote to our reconciliation. Excuse what we could not ask for, and make it affordable that we dare not beg for. Receive what we offer you, grant us what we ask of you, and excuse us that we fear, because you are the only hope of sinners. By your means we expect the forgiveness of our sins; and in the same, or most blessed Virgin, the hope of our prize is founded. Holy Mary, help the miserable, encourage the fainthearted, strengthen the weak, pray for the people, intercede for the clergy, plead for the devout female sex, feel and experience your powerful patronage all those who celebrate your commemoration.
Also read: History of the Holy Rosary
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