This feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the great naval victory over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto on this day in the year 1570, a favor due to the recitation of the Rosary. This victory saved Europe from being overrun by the forces of Islam.
Lepanto, perhaps the most complete victory ever gained over the Ottoman Empire, on October 7, 1571, is commemorated by the invocation “Help of Christians,” inserted in the Litany of Loretto. At Belgrade the Turks were defeated on the Feast of Our Lady ad Nives in 1716. A second victory gained that year on the Octave of the Assumption determined Pope Clement XI to command the Feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. Pope Leo XIII added the invocation “Queen of the most Holy Rosary, pray for us,” to the Litany of Loretto. The Feast is in reality a great festival of thanksgiving for the signal and countless benefits bestowed on Christendom through the Rosary of our blessed Queen.
In modern times successive popes have urged the faithful to pray the Rosary. It is a form of contemplative prayer, mental and vocal prayer, which brings down God’s blessing on the Church. It is a biblically inspired prayer which is centered on meditation on the salvific mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, who was so closely associated with her Son in his redeeming activity.
The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. Here are some suggestions for things to do:
- Pray the Rosary, or 5 decades of the Rosary tonight with your family. Continue this practice through October, the month that is especially dedicated to the Rosary.
- For families with younger children, it helps to have visual aids for the mysteries. Have a picture to flip at the beginning of each decade for the family Rosary.
- Learn how to make rosaries, cord and/or wire for missions.
- Learn about the great victory of Our Lady at the Battle of Lepanto. You can also read more about Pope St. Pius V, who instituted the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
- Read the encyclicals on the rosary, and the latest apostolic letter.