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October – Month Dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary
The month of October each year is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. The liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated annually on October 7. It was instituted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in gratitude for the protection that she gives the Church in answer to the praying of the Rosary by the faithful.
Legend tells us that the Rosary as a form of prayer was given to St. Dominic (1170-1221) by Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, who entrusted it to him as an aid in the conflicts with the Albigensians. The Dominican pope, St. Pius V, did much to further the spread of the Rosary and it thereafter became one of the most popular devotions in Christendom. Pope St. Pius V (1569) officially approved the Rosary in its present form with the Papal Bull, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices. It had been completed by the addition of the second half of the “Hail Mary” and the “Glory be to the Father” at the conclusion of each mystery.
In the Middle Ages, the rosary came into being in various monasteries as a substitute for the Divine Office – many lay monks and devout lay persons did not know how to read! Instead of the 150 psalms, they would pray 150 “Our Fathers” counting them on a ring of beads known as the crown or “corona.” With the growth of popularity of Marian devotion in the twelfth century, the “Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary” developed now substituting 150 “Hail Marys” in place of the “Our Fathers.”
The 150 “Hail Marys” were subsequently subdivided into fifteen decades by the young Dominican friar, Henry Kalkar (1328-1408), with each decade referring to an event in the life of Jesus and Mary. The Dominican, Alanus de Rupe (Blessed Alain de la Roche) (1428-1478) further divided the episodes in the history of salvation into the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries. He also attributed the origin of the Rosary, then known as the “Psalter of the Blessed Virgin” to St. Dominic and thus spurred the Dominican Order to make the Apostolate of the Rosary their special concern. The Dominicans have, since then, promulgated the Rosary with notable results.
The Rosary is Christocentric setting forth the entire life of Jesus Christ, the passion, death, resurrection and glory. The Rosary honours and contemplates Mary too for the same reason that the Liturgical Year does likewise: “Because of the mission she received from God, her life is most closely linked with the mysteries of Jesus Christ, and there is no one who has followed in the footsteps of the Incarnate Word more closely and with more merit than she” 142 (Mediator Dei). Meditation on this cycle of Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries makes the Rosary not only “a breviary or summary of the Gospel and of Christian life,” but also a compendium of the Liturgical Year. Therewith the Rosary stands revealed as a dynamic teacher and nurturer of Christian faith, morality, and spiritual perfection, fostering in various ways faith, hope, charity, and the other virtues, and mediating special graces, all to the end that we may become more and more like unto Christ.
In this month of October, let us consider this beautiful prayer of the Rosary as a means that we too can use in order to draw closer to Jesus and Mary by meditating on the great mysteries of our salvation.