The History of the Holy Rosary
Rosary is composed of the prayer of Christ and
the Angelic Salutation, that is, the Our Father and the Hail Mary. It was the first prayer and has been in use
all through the centuries, from the time of the apostles and disciples down to the present.
It was only in the year 1214, however, that the Church
received the Rosary in its present form and according to the method we use today. It was given to the Church by St. Dominic,
who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a means of converting the Albigensians and other sinners.
This is the story of how he received it,
which is found in the very well-known book De Dignitate Psalterii, written by Blessed Alan de la Roche.
Saint Dominic was born in
Spain . At the age of 14, he went to the university in Palencia to study arts. He studied music too and he loved to sing, particularly
the Ave Maris Stella and the Veni Creator.
He was ordained a priest when he was 25 years old. In 1203, as Dominic was accompanying his bishop
on a journey, he became aware of unorthodox teachings of a group known as the Albigensians who considered all material things
to be evil. He became convinced of the need for someone to preach the truth.
He withdrew into a forest near Toulouse , where he prayed continuously for three days and three nights. During this time he
did nothing but cry and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of God. Because of the penance he became very sick.
Then our Lady appeared to him, accompanied
by three angels, and she said, "Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"
"Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know
far better than I do, because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation."
Then our Lady replied, "I want you to know that,
in this kind of warfare, the principal weapon has always been the Angelic Psalter, which is the foundation-stone of the New
Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter."
So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal for
the conversion of the people in that district, he made straight for the cathedral. At once unseen angels rang the bells to
gather the people together, and Saint Dominic began to preach.
At the very beginning of his sermon, an appalling
storm broke out, the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and lightning that all were very much
afraid. Even greater was their fear when, looking at a picture of our Lady exposed in a prominent place, they saw her raise
her arms to heaven three times to call down God's vengeance upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their lives,
and seek the protection of the holy Mother of God.
God wished, by means of these supernatural phenomena,
to spread the new devotion of the holy Rosary and to make it more widely known.
At last, at the prayer of Saint Dominic, the storm
came to an end, and he went on preaching. So fervently and compellingly did he explain the importance and value of the Rosary
that almost all the people of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their false beliefs.
In a very short time a great improvement was seen
in the town; people began leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, instructed
by the Blessed Virgin as well as by his own experience, Saint Dominic preached the Rosary for the rest of his life. He preached
it by his example as well as by his sermons, in cities and in country places, to people of high station and low, before scholars
and the uneducated, to Catholics and to heretics.