Feast of the Rosary ~ A Bit of History

The Feast of the Rosary has a bit of an evolving history! The natural progression of Our Lady's feast is a wonderful proof of her love and protection of her children that she so loves. Dates and details can be so boring, so bear with me through this, because there are many important dates and events that mark the way to the Feast of the Holy Rosary being established.

The right to celebrate the Feast of the Rosary, which occurs on October 7th during the Month of the Holy Rosary, was first granted to the Dominicans, (the Friar Preachers), because of their propagation of the devotion of the Rosary to defeat the Albigensian heresy, as revealed by Our Lady to St. Dominic .

We should note here that it was only granted to the Dominicans at this time, though the devotion to the Rosary was being spread very rapidly.

The next step, after the victory at the Battle of Lepanto on Oct 7, 1571, Pope St Pius V instituted the festival of 'Mary of Victory'(Our Lady, Queen of Victory). The victory of the battle is credited to the recitation of the Rosary by the men on the ships and galleys (to whom Don Juan of Austria gave each man a rosary) and by the Pope himself and others who were celebrating the Festival of the Rosary at that time.

For that years festival, Pope St Pius V, who before he was elected to the Papacy, was also himself a Dominican Friar and loved the Rosary, had asked all the faithful to pray their Rosaries for the intention of success of the Holy League in defeating the Ottoman Regime.

Next, Pope Gregory XIII, in 1573, set the Festival of the Rosary as the First Sunday in October, to be celebrated in those churches with an altar or Chapel of the Rosary.

In 1671, on the hundredth anniversary of Lepanto, the celebration was extended to Spain and all her dominions.

Then, Pope Clement XI, after the defeat of the Turks in 1715 in Belgrade, ordered the Feast to be celebrated by the whole church. His intention was:

"that the hearts of the faithful might be thereby incited to the greater veneration of the Blessed Virgin, and that the grateful remembrance of the help received from above might never pass away."

In 1887, Pope St Pius X returned the Feast of the Holy Rosary to October 7th.

There are more dates and events of course, but these are the main ones to let you see the progression. A bit more research would show the transition of the name of the feast from Our Lady of Victory to the Feast of the Holy Rosary, but I will leave this research task to a more educated history buff than myself. ;-) For more information, consider these books:

For the Mass of the Feast of the Rosary: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

The most complete book of devotion: Secret of the Rosary

G. K. Chesterton's famous poem about Lepanto


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