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Dominicans and the Holy Rosary

Tradition tells us that our Blessed Mother gave St. Dominic the Rosary as a means to preach the truth of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. How Dominic preached these mysteries we do not really know, but he certainly meditated and prayed on them often.

It was largely the work of Blessed Alan de la Roche, a son of St Dominic who formulated the Rosary as we know it.

The Psalter of the Virgin which Alan began to preach at Douai in 1464 had a structure of three groups of Mysteries, Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious, corresponding to the fundamental aspects of the mystery of Christ; Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection. This Marian prayer of Alan spread rapidly; its popularity was largely the work of Confraternities of the Rosary, the first of which was established by the Cologne Dominicans in 1475. The traditional list of fifteen mysteries, helped along by the invention of printing, became the norm between 1480 and 1500. All in all what Alan preached is the Rosary of today.

In thanksgiving for her intercession during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Pope Pius V (a Dominican Pope) introduced the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th. The praying of the Rosary was again recommended by Our Lady through Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858 and again through the children of Fatima in 1917.

Throughout the troubled centuries since Dominic first preached the Rosary it has been a lifeline to Heaven for millions of souls , through persecutions in country after country not least of all Ireland, Christians who dared not gather for prayer and who were denied the Mass whispered in secret the Prayer of the Rosary. Even today many a Catholic struck down by accident or sudden illness owes the Grace of receiving the Last Sacraments to the fact that they carry a rosary in their pocket. For that is an unmistakable sign that they are one who has a claim on the Mother of God and will have an intercessor beside them at the very throne of God. After a lifetime of saying over and over “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”, one could expect nothing else but that she would.

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