On the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Dom Prosper Guéranger, O.S.B.
The Liturgical Year,
In its present form, the rosary was made known to the world by St. Dominic at the time of the struggles with the Albigensians, that social war of such ill-omen for the Church. The rosary was then of more avail than armed forces against the power of Satan; it is now the Church’s last resource. It would seem that, the ancient forms of social prayer being no longer relished by the people, the Holy Ghost has willed by this easy and ready summary of the liturgy to maintain, in the isolated devotion of these unhappy times, the essential of that life of prayer, faith, and Christian virtue, which the public celebration of the Divine Office formerly kept up among the nations. Before the thirteenth century, popular piety was already familiar with what was called the psalter of the laity, that is the angelical salutation repeated one hundred and fifty times; it was the distribution of these Hail Marys into decades, each devoted to the consideration of a particular mystery, that constituted the rosary. Such was the divine expedient, simple as the eternal Wisdom that conceived it, and far reaching in its effects; for while it led wandering man to the Queen of Mercy, it obviated ignorance which is the food of heresy, and taught him to find once more “the paths consecrated by the Blood of the Man-God, and by the tears of His Mother.” (Leo XIII, Magnæ Dei Matris, 8 September 1892)
Thus speaks the great Pontiff who, in the universal sorrow of these days, has again pointed out the means of salvation more than once experienced by our fathers. Leo XIII, in his encyclicals, has consecrated the present month [of October] to this devotion so dear to heaven; he has honored our Lady in her litanies with a new title, Queen of the most holy rosary (Letter “Salutaris,” 24 December 1883); and he has given the final development to the solemnity of this day, by raising it to the rank of a second class feast, and by enriching it with a proper office explaining its permanent object. (Decrees of 11 September 1887 and 5 August 1888.) Beside all this the feast is a memorial of glorious victories, which do honor to the Christian name.