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The Most Holy Rosary: Importance

“If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins ‘you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.’ Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if– and mark well what I say– if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.” -Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary


The principle means God gives us for our salvation are the Sacraments, but secondarily we have the sacramentals which are no less necessary because they are what lead us to the sacraments more often and faithfully, and are what help us carry through the day the graces we receive in the sacraments.  Now the greatest of all sacramentals is the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Ever since it was given to Saint Dominic it has been most zealously been promoted by the Dominican Order, great Saints, and the Holy Father.  This promotion by the Holy See has become incessant in the last 150 years.

We will beginning with the great Pope Leo XIII who is known as “The Pope of the Rosary”, and who devoted a total of 11 of his 85 encyclicals to this single topic.  He was also a friend of Blessed Bartolo Longo the “Man of Mary” and the great Apostle of the Holy Rosary in 19th Century Italy.  He is quoted constantly by his successors and they very much follow in his wake.  Let us now turn to the successors of Saint Peter:


“It is clearly evident that this form of prayer is particularly pleasing to the Blessed Virgin, and that it is especially suitable as a means of defense for the Church and all Christians, it is in no way wonderful that several others of Our Predecessors have made it their aim to favor and increase its spread by their high recommendations. Thus Urban IV testified that ‘every day the Rosary obtained fresh boon for Christianity.’ Sixtus IV declared that this method of prayer ‘redounded to the honor of God and the Blessed Virgin, and was well suited to obviate impending dangers;’ Leo X that ‘it was instituted to oppose pernicious heresiarchs and heresies;’ while Julius III called it ‘the glory of the Church.’ So also St. Pius V, that ‘with the spread of this devotion the meditations of the faithful have begun to be more inflamed, their prayers more fervent, and they have suddenly become different men; the darkness of heresy has been dissipated, and the light of Catholic faith has broken forth again.’ Lastly Gregory XIII in his turn pronounced that ‘the Rosary had been instituted by St. Dominic to appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.'” -Pope Leo XIII, Supremi Apostolatus Officio, 1 September 1883


“It is good to recall to memory the example of that illustrious widow, Judith — a type of the Blessed Virgin — who curbed the ill-judged impatience of the Jews when they attempted to fix, according to their own judgment, the day appointed by God for the deliverance of His city. The example should also be borne in mind of the Apostles, who awaited the supreme gift promised unto them of the Paraclete, and persevered unanimously in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus. For it is indeed, an arduous and exceeding weighty matter that is now in hand: it is to humiliate an old and most subtle enemy in the spread-out array of his power; to win back the freedom of the Church and of her Head; to preserve and secure the fortifications within which should rest in peace the safety and weal of human society. Care must be taken, therefore, that, in these times of mourning for the Church, the most holy devotion of the Rosary of Mary be assiduously and piously observed, the more so that this method of prayer being so arranged as to recall in turn all the mysteries of our salvation, is eminently fitted to foster the spirit of piety.” -Pope Leo XIII, Superiore Anno, 30 August 1884


“You know how We place amid present dangers Our confidence in the Glorious Virgin of the Holy Rosary, for the safety and prosperity of Christendom and the peace and tranquillity of the Church. Mindful that in moments of great trial, pastors and people have ever had recourse with entire confidence to the august Mother of God, in whose hands are all graces, certain too, that devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary is most opportune for the needs of these times, We have desired to revive everywhere this devotion, and to spread it far and wide among the faithful of the world.” -Pope Leo XIII, Vi È Ben Noto, 20 September 1887


“Now, among the several rites and manners of paying honor to the Blessed Mary, some are to be preferred, inasmuch as we know them to be most powerful and most pleasing to our Mother; and for this reason we specially mention by name and recommend the Rosary. The common language has given the name of corona to this manner of prayer, which recalls to our minds the great mysteries of Jesus and Mary united in joys, sorrows, and triumphs. The contemplation of these august mysteries, contemplated in their order, affords to faithful souls a wonderful confirmation of faith, protection against the disease of error, and increase of the strength of the soul. The soul and memory of him who thus prays, enlightened by faith, are drawn towards these mysteries by the sweetest devotion, are absorbed therein and are surprised before the work of the Redemption of mankind, achieved at such a price and by events so great. The soul is filled with gratitude and love before these proofs of Divine love; its hope becomes enlarged and its desire is increased for those things which Christ has prepared for such as have united themselves to Him in imitation of His example and in participation in His sufferings. The prayer is composed of words proceeding from God Himself, from the Archangel Gabriel, and from the Church; full of praise and of high desires; and it is renewed and continued in an order at once fixed and various; its fruits are ever new and sweet.” -Pope Leo XIII, Octobri Mense, 22 September 1891


“To appease the might of an outraged God and to bring that health of soul so needed by those who are sorely afflicted, there is nothing better than devout and persevering prayer, provided it be joined with a love for and practice of Christian life. And both of these, the spirit of prayer and the practice of Christian life, are best attained through the devotion of the Rosary of Mary.” -Pope Leo XIII, Magnae Dei Matris, 8 September 1892


“We are convinced that the Rosary, if devoutly used, is bound to benefit not only the individual but society at large.” -Pope Leo XIII, Laetitiae Sanctae, 8 September 1893


“The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace; being by worthiness and by merit most acceptable to Him, and, therefore, surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven. Now, this merciful office of hers, perhaps, appears in no other form of prayer so manifestly as it does in the Rosary. For in the Rosary all the part that Mary took as our co-Redemptress comes to us, as it were, set forth, and in such wise as though the facts were even then taking place; and this with much profit to our piety, whether in the contemplation of the succeeding sacred mysteries, or in the prayers which we speak and repeat with the lips.” -Pope Leo XIII, Iucunda Semper Expectatione, 8 September 1894


“In Mary, God has given us the most zealous guardian of Christian unity. There are, of course, more ways than one to win her protection by prayer, but as for Us, We think that the best and most effective way to her favor lies in the Rosary. We have elsewhere brought it to the attention of the devout Christian and not least among the advantages of the Rosary is the ready and easy means it puts in his hands to nurture his faith, and to keep him from ignorance of his religion and the danger of error.” -Pope Leo XIII, Adiutricem, 5 September 1895


“The form of prayer We refer to has obtained the special name of “Rosary,” as though it represented by its arrangement the sweetness of roses and the charm of a garland. This is most fitting for a method of venerating the Virgin, who is rightly styled the Mystical Rose of Paradise, and who, as Queen of the universe, shines therein with a crown of stars. So that by its very name it appears to foreshadow and be an augury of the joys and garlands of Heaven offered by her to those who are devoted to her. This appears clearly if we consider the nature of the Rosary of Our Lady. There is no duty which Christ and His Apostles more emphatically urged by both precept and example than that of prayer and supplication to Almighty God. The Fathers and Doctors in subsequent times have taught that this is a matter of such grave necessity, that if men neglect it they hope in vain for eternal salvation. Every one who prays finds the door open to impetration, both from the very nature of prayer and from the promises of Christ. And we all know that prayer derives its chief efficacy from two principal circumstances: perseverance, and the union of many for one end. The former is signified in those invitations of Christ so full of goodness: ask, seek, knock (Matt. vii., 7), just as a kind father desires to indulge the wishes of his children, but who also requires to be continually asked by them and as it were wearied by their prayers, in order to attach their hearts more closely to himself. The second condition Our Lord has born witness to more than once: If two of you shall consent upon earth concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by My Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. xviii. 19, 20). Hence that pregnant saying of Tertullian: Let us gather into an assembly and congregation that we may, as it were, make up a band and solicit God (Apologet. c. xxxix): such violence is pleasing to God; and the memorable words of Aquinas: It is impossible that the prayers of many should not be heard, if one prayer is made up as it were out of many supplications. (In Evang. Matt. c. xvii). Both of these qualities are conspicuous in the Rosary.” -Pope Leo XIII, Fidentem Piumque Animum, 20 September 1896


“To those, therefore, who make use of the pious prayers of the Rosary in this Sodality (the Archconfraternity of the Holy Rosary), may be well applied the words with which St. Paul addressed the new Christians: ‘You are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of Angels’ (Heb. xii., 22). What more divine, what more delightful, than to meditate and pray with the Angels? With what confidence may we not hope that those who on earth have united with the Angels in this ministry will one day enjoy their blessed company in Heaven? For these reasons the Roman Pontiffs have ever given the highest praise to this Sodality of Our Lady. Innocent VIII. calls it ‘a most devout confraternity’ (Splendor Paternae Gloriae, Feb. 26, 1491.) Pius V declares that by its virtue ‘Christians began suddenly to be transformed into other men, the darkness of heresy to be dispelled, and the light of Catholic faith to shine forth’ (Consueverunt Romani Pontifices, September17, 1569). Sixtus V, noting how fruitful for religion this Sodality was, professed himself most devoted to it. Many others, too, enriched it with numerous and very special indulgences, or took it under their particular patronage, enrolling themselves in it and giving it many testimonies of their goodwill.” -Pope Leo XIII, Augustissimae Virginis Mariae, 12 September 1897


“We have long desired to secure the welfare of the human race in an increase of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, as in a powerful citadel, and We have never ceased to encourage the constant use of the Rosary among Christians, by publishing every year since September 1, 1883, an Encyclical Letter on this subject, besides frequently issuing Decrees, as is well known. And now, since God in His merciful Providence has this year again allowed Us to see the approach of the month of October, which We have already consecrated to our Heavenly Queen under the title of the Rosary, We would not refrain from again addressing you; but summarizing in a few words all that we have hitherto done for the promotion of his form of prayer, We will crown our work by yet a new document, in which Our earnest desire and zeal for this form of devotion to Mary may appear still more clearly, and the fervour of the faithful may be stimulated to the devout and constant use of this pious practice.

Impelled, therefore, by a constant desire that Christians should ever be convinced of the efficacy and dignity of the Rosary of Our Lady, We first of all pointed out that the origin of this form of prayer is divine rather than human, showing it to be an admirable garland woven from the Angelic Salutation, together with the Lord’s Prayer, joined to meditation, and that this form of prayer was most powerful and particularly efficacious for attaining eternal life. For besides the special excellence of the prayers, it affords a powerful protection to faith and conspicuous models of virtue in the mysteries proposed for contemplation. We showed also how easy the devotion is and how suited to the people, offering an absolutely perfect model of domestic life in meditation on the Holy Family at Nazareth, and that therefore Christendom had never failed to experience its salutary effects.

For these reasons We have ever repeatedly encouraged the recitation of the Holy Rosary, and have endeavoured to increase its dignity by a more solemn cult, following in this the footsteps of our predecessors. Pope Sixtus V., of happy memory, approved the ancient custom of reciting the Rosary; Gregory XIII dedicated a day under this title, which Clement VIII. afterwards inscribed in the martyrology, and Clement XI extended to the Universal Church. Benedict XIII inserted the feast in the Roman Breviary, and We, ourselves, in perpetual testimony of Our affection for this devotion commanded that the solemnity with its office should be celebrated in the Universal Church as a double of the second class, consecrating to this devotion the entire month of October. Finally we ordered the addition to the Litany of Loreto of the invocation “Queen of the most Holy Rosary,” as an augury of victory in our present warfare.” -Pope Leo XIII, Diuturni Temporis, 5 September 1898


And now on to his succesors…


“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the richest of all prayers to the Mediatrix of all grace; It is the prayer that touches most the heart of the Mother of God. Say it each day!” –Pope Saint Pius X


“Loving the Blessed Virgin as a Mother, confiding chiefly in her patronage,  Dominic started his battle for the Faith. The Albigenses, among other   dogmas, attacked both the Divine maternity and the virginity of Mary. He,   attacked by them with every insult, defending to the utmost of his strength   the sanctity of these dogmas, he invoked the help of the Virgin Mother herself, frequently using these words: “Make me worthy to praise thee, Sacred Virgin; give me strength against thine enemies.” How pleased was the   Heavenly Queen with her pious servant may be easily gathered from this,   that she used his ministry to teach the Most Holy Rosary to the Church, the   Spouse of her Son; that prayer which, being both vocal and mental, in the   contemplation especially of the mysteries of religion, while the Lord’s   Prayer is fifteen times repeated together with as many decades of the Hail   Mary, is most adapted to fostering widely piety and every virtue. . .Accordingly the Church, which is wont to salute her “the Mother of Grace   and the Mother of Mercy,” has so found her always, but especially in answer  to the Rosary. Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs have let pass no occasion of   commending the Rosary and have enriched it with Apostolic Indulgences.” –  Pope Benedict XV, Fausto appetente die, #11


“Among the various supplications with which we successfully appeal to the   Virgin Mother of God, the Holy Rosary without doubt occupies a special and   distinct place.” -Pope Pius XI, Ingravescentibus malis, #9


“If men in our century, with its derisive pride, refuse the Holy Rosary,   there is an innumerable multitude of holy men of every age and every   condition who have always held it dear. They have recited it with great  devotion, and in every moment they have used it as a powerful weapon to put   the demons to flight, to preserve the integrity of life, to acquire virtue   more easily, and in a word to attain real peace among men. Nor are there   lacking men famous as to doctrine and wisdom who, although intensely   occupied in scientific study and researches, never even for a day fail to   pray fervently on bended knee, before the image of the Virgin, in this most   pious form. Thus kings and princes, however burdened with most urgent   occupations and affairs, made it their duty to recite the Rosary.” -Pope   Pius XI, Ingravescentibus malis, #14-15


“The Holy Rosary not only serves admirably to overcome the enemies of God   and Religion, but is also a stimulus and spur to the practice of evangelic   virtues which it injects and cultivates in our souls. Above all, it   nourishes the Catholic Faith, which flourishes again by due meditation on   the sacred mysteries, and raises minds to the truth revealed to us by God.   Every one can understand how salutary it is, especially in our times   wherein sometimes a certain annoyance of the things of the spirit is felt   even among the Faithful, and a dislike, as it were, for the Christian   doctrine. Therefore, revive the hope of immortal welfare, while the triumph   of Jesus Christ and of His Mother, meditated on by us in the last part of   the Rosary, shows us Heaven open and invites us to the conquest of the   Eternal Country.” -Pope Pius XI, Ingravescentibus malis, #22-23


“We well know the Rosary’s powerful efficacy to obtain the maternal aid of   the Virgin. By no means is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid.   However, We consider the Holy Rosary the most convenient and most fruitful   means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of this practice,   heavenly rather than human, and by its nature. What prayers are better   adapted and more beautiful than the Lord’s prayer and the angelic   salutation, which are the flowers with which this mystical crown is formed?   With meditation of the Sacred Mysteries added to the vocal prayers, there   emerges another very great advantage, so that all, even the most simple and   least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to nourish and preserve   their own faith.” -Ven. Pope Pius XII, Ingruentium malorum


“For the rosary is a very commendable form of prayer and meditation. In   saying it we weave a mystic garland of Ave Maria’s, Pater Noster’s, and   Gloria Patri’s. And as we recite these vocal prayers, we meditate upon the   principal mysteries of our religion; the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and   the Redemption of the human race are proposed, one event after another, for   our consideration.” -Blessed Pope John XXIII, Grata recordatio, #2


“If evils increase, the devotion of the People of God should also increase.   And so, venerable brothers, We want you to take the lead in urging and   encouraging people to pray ardently to our most merciful mother Mary by   saying the Rosary.” -Pope Paul VI, Christi matri, #9


“With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is   led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the   depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace,   as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.” -Blessed Pope   John Paul II, Rosarium virginis mariae


“It would be impossible to name all the many Saints who discovered in the   Rosary a genuine path to growth in holiness. We need but mention Saint   Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, the author of an excellent work on the   Rosary, (The Secret of the Rosary) and, closer to ourselves, Padre Pio of   Pietrelcina, whom I recently had the joy of canonizing. As a true apostle   of the Rosary, Blessed Bartolo Longo had a special charism. His path to   holiness rested on an inspiration heard in the depths of his heart:   ‘Whoever spreads the Rosary is saved!’.(Blessed Bartolo Longo, Storia del   Santuario di Pompei, Pompei, 1990, 59) As a result, he felt called to build   a Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Pompei, against the   background of the ruins of the ancient city, which scarcely heard the   proclamation of Christ before being buried in 79 A.D. during an eruption of   Mount Vesuvius, only to emerge centuries later from its ashes as a witness   to the lights and shadows of classical civilization. By his whole life’s   work and especially by the practice of the ‘Fifteen Saturdays’, Bartolo   Longo promoted the Christocentric and contemplative heart of the Rosary,   and received great encouragement and support from Leo XIII, the ‘Pope of   the Rosary’.”-Blessed Pope John Paul II, Rosarium virginis mariae


“Before entering the Shrine to recite the Holy Rosary with you, I paused briefly before the tomb of Bl. Bartolo Longo and, praying, I asked myself: “Where did this great apostle of Mary find the energy and perseverance he needed to bring such an impressive work, now known across the world, to completion? Was it not in the Rosary, which he accepted as a true gift from Our Lady’s Heart?” Yes, that truly was how it happened! The experience of the Saints bears witness to it: this popular Marian prayer is a precious spiritual means to grow in intimacy with Jesus, and to learn at the school of the Blessed Virgin always to fulfil the divine will. It is contemplation of the mysteries of Christ in spiritual union with Mary as the Servant of God Paul VI stressed in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus (n. 46) and as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II abundantly illustrated in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae that today I once again present in spirit to the Community of Pompeii and to each one of you. You who live and work here in Pompeii, especially you, dear priests, men and women religious and lay people involved in this unique portion of the Church, are all called to make Bl. Bartolo Longo’s charism your own and to become, to the extent and in the way that God grants to each one, authentic apostles of the Rosary.” –Pope Benedict XVI, The Rosary: A Gift of Her Heart – A Meditation, Pontifical Shrine of Pompeii, 19 October 2008


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