Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Historically this day was celebrated as "Our Lady of Victory," commemorating the victory of Christian forces over a superior Muslim army at Lepanto in 1571. Victory in that battle was credited by Pope Pius V (a Dominican) to the praying of the Rosary by Christians. For Dominicans, this has always been a feast day to celebrate the connection of our Order to the spread of this devotion. Pious legend (here depicted) tells us that Our Lady gave the Rosary to St. Dominic as a weapon to be used in battle (hence, Dominicans wear our Rosary proudly in the place a medieval warrior would have worn his sword). The actual development and use of the Rosary has a much more complicated history than that; but what is clear is that Dominicans are responsible for the systematizing of the prayers and the use of the Rosary as a popular devotional reflection on the life of Jesus and his Blessed Mother. No other accomplishment of the 800 year-old Dominican Order compares with that of the dissemination of the Rosary. While not everyone who prays the Rosary will immediately reflect on its connection to the Order of Preachers (anymore than those who pray the Way of the Cross or gaze upon a Creche will think of the Franciscans), the fact that it is the most popular form of personal piety in the Church is the directly descended from Dominican use of the Rosary as a medium of the Gospel and a great source of preaching beginning in the Middle Ages. We Dominicans are immensely grateful for the gift of the Rosary and celebrate this day as a perpetual thanksgiving for its continued meaning in our religious life. As always, we encourage the use of the Rosary as a powerful intercessory prayer, a potent weapon against evil, and a useful devotional reflection on the life of our Savior and his Blessed Mother, the first to receive and believe the Gospel. Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us that we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.
Fr. Bart Hutcherson, OP
Fr. Bart Hutcherson, OP is a Roman Catholic Priest & a Friar of the Dominican Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus-USA. He is on the Pastoral Staff at Most Holy Rosary Parish in Antioch, California, and uses this page to post Homilies and Scripture reflections.