On November 17, 2013, Pope Francis gave some sage medical advice to the thousands in attendance at the Vatican, “I want to recommend some medicine for all of you.” Holding up a box that looked like a prescription packet of pills, he urged the people, “Don’t forget to take it,” he said. “It’s good for your heart, for your soul, for your whole life.” What was it? It was a box containing rosary beads and is what the pope described as being, “spiritual medicine.”
The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. This simple string of 58 beads joined together with a cross has been the weapon of choice of many saints, popes, and religious figures in the fight against sin, temptation, war, and evil. Pope Francis gave some examples of when the “medicine” should be taken: “When we want sinners to convert, when we feel we need help in making a difficult decision, or when we do not feel strong enough to resist temptation, when we are not able to forgive someone or we want to ask for mercy for a dying person.”
The intercessory powers of the rosary
The intercessory powers of the rosary have been shown time after time throughout the past 2,000 years. One of these examples is recognized on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary which is celebrated each year on October 7. Previously known as Our Lady of Victory, this day honors the great victory of the Christians in Europe in their ability to defeat the Turkish Ottoman Empire in its conquest to form a Muslim empire in the area.
In 1571, Pope Pius V recognized the significant threat of the Turkish Muslim’s takeover and assembled a fleet under the direction of Don Juan of Austria. In addition, the pope urged all the faithful throughout Europe to repeatedly pray the rosary and to ask Blessed Mary for her intercession and for the protection of Christianity. Even the men fighting the battle carried rosaries and prayed to the Blessed Mother. On October 7, 1571, although the Christians were outnumbered, they defeated the Turkish forces in the Battle of Lepanto and the demise of Christianity to the area was avoided. The following year, Pope Pius V establish October 7 as the day to give thanks to God for His protection during the battle and to remember Blessed Mary for her powerful intercession. Pope Pius V believed the “arms” of the Rosary were more powerful than the cannons and the soldiers’ honorable fight.
The practice of dedicating the month of October to the Holy Rosary gained popularity during the papacy of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903). He greatly encouraged the daily recitation of the rosary as a way to honor our Blessed Mother. The Pope was so passionate about the rosary that he wrote 12 encyclicals (documents or letters written by the pope to the public) on the rosary. These encyclicals focused on the value of the rosary and on its role within the Church and society. In these encyclicals, the pope made frequent reference to the constant struggle the Church found itself battling: “violent storm of persecution, which in many parts of the world, has been unleashed against the Church, depriving it of its liberty, saddening it very cruelly with calumnies and miseries of all kinds, and making the blood of martyrs flow again and again.” He urged all followers to not despair, but to find solace under the protection of our Blessed Mother. He reminds us that the Scriptures tells us, “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” One of the best ways to “knock” and to seek Blessed Mary’s refuge is by praying the rosary. As St. Irenaeus expressed, “she has been constituted the cause of salvation for the whole human race.”
15 Graces From Praying The Rosary
The power of the rosary is so great, even Blessed Mary herself urged the children at Fatima during her apparitions,
“Recite the rosary every day to obtain the peace for the world and the end of the war (World War I).”
Blessed Mary revealed the 15 graces those who dedicate themselves to the rosary will receive:
- To all those who shall recite my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and very great graces.
- Those who shall persevere in the recitation of my Rosary shall receive some signal grace.
- The Rosary shall be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin, and dispel heresy.
- The Rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies; it will substitute in hearts love of God for love of the world, and will lift them to the desire of heavenly and eternal things. How many souls shall sanctify themselves by this means!
- Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary, shall not perish.
- Those who shall recite my Rosary devoutly, meditating on its mysteries, shall not be overwhelmed by misfortune. The sinner shall be converted; the just shall grow in grace and become worthy of eternal life.
- Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
- Those who recite my Rosary shall find during their life and at their death the light of God, the fullness of His graces, and shall share in the merits of the blessed.
- I shall deliver very promptly from purgatory the souls devoted to my Rosary.
- The true children of my Rosary shall enjoy great glory in heaven.
- What you ask through my Rosary, you shall obtain.
- Those who propagate my Rosary shall be aided by me in all their necessities.
- I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have for their brethren the saints of heaven during their life and at the hour of death.
- Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are all my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
- Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
Although the Battle of Lepanto was fought more than 400 years ago, the threat of war hasn’t subsided. Other evils such as sin and temptation are constant battles we must all fight. Today, more than ever, we need to pray to our Holy Mother for her constant intercession. Remember to pray the rosary not only in October, but every day.