For the past 118 years Catholics have celebrated October as the Month of the Holy Rosary. The observance was established by Pope Leo XIII on September 1, 1883 who published 11 encyclicals on the Rosary during his pontificate.
As is the case with so many of our Catholic celebrations, setting aside a Month of the Holy Rosary is an invitation to increase our devotion to this most ancient and beautiful prayer not only in October but throughout the year.
On October 7 we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was established by Pope St. Pius V to mark the victory of Christian naval forces over the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto on that date in 1571. That victory was attributed to the rosaries being offered to Our Lady in Rome on the day of the battle.
The origin of the Rosary is lost in time. The use of beads or other objects to count prayers is a custom that ante-dates Christianity, but Catholics have been using rosaries for well over a millennium. Originally they were called Paternoster beads because they were used to recite 150 Our Fathers (paternosters). Some say that the 150 paternosters replaced recitation of the 150 psalms for those unable to read.
A pious legend attributes the origin of the rosary as we know it to Saint Dominic, but there is no data to validate the story. However, it was one of his Dominican Friars, Blessed Alain de la Roche, who established the 15 Rosary Promises in the 15th Century and in the same Century a Carthusian Monk, Dominic of Prussia, added the mediations on the Hail Marys. The traditional 15 mysteries were standardized by Pope St. Pius V.
While the Rosary is a Marian devotion, it represents a Catholic tradition of Mary pointing the way to Jesus as in the story of the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:8) where Mary tells the servant “do whatever he tells you.”
The beauty of the Rosary is twofold. First is its simplicity and second is that it leads us to Jesus through the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection. It has accompanied countless people on their journey to the Father.
In observance of the month of the Rosary, you are invited to log on to www.TexasCatholicTV.com to join various groups around the diocese as they pray the Rosary.
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