The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. Since the prayers of the Rosary come from such excellent sources — from Our Lord Himself, from inspired Scripture, and from the Church — it is not surprising that the Rosary is so dear to our Blessed Mother and so powerful with heaven. We invite all to pray the rosary. In a very special way we invite parents to pray the Rosary together with children, so they, too, can learn this prayer and use it for the glory of God and their own benefit.
According to an account by fifteenth-century Dominican, Alan de la Roch, Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1206 after he had been praying and doing severe penances because of his lack of success in combating the Albigensian heresy. Mary praised him for his valiant fight against the heretics and then gave him the Rosary as a mighty weapon, explained its uses and efficacy, and told him to preach it to others.
St. Pius V attributed the great defeat of the Turkish fleet on the first Sunday of October, 1571, to the fact that at the same time the Rosary confraternities at Rome and elsewhere were holding their processions. Accordingly, he ordered a commemoration of the Rosary to be made on that day. Two years later, Gregory XIII allowed the celebration of a feast of the Rosary in churches having an altar dedicated to the Rosary. A second great victory over the Turks, who once, like the Russians, threatened the ruin of Christian civilization, occurred on August 5, 1716, when Prince Eugene defeated them at Peterwardein in Hungary. Thereupon Clement XI extended the feast of the Rosary to the whole Church.
The Rosary had its origin in the liturgical mentality of former ages. Even at the present time it is called "Mary’s Psalter." There still are Catholics who consider the 150 Hail Marys a substitute for the 150 psalms for those persons who neither have the time, the education, nor the opportunity to pray the Hours of the Divine Office.
The Rosary is Christocentric setting forth the entire life of Jesus Christ, the passion, death, resurrection and glory. Meditation on this cycle of Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries makes the Rosary "a breviary or summary of the Gospel and of Christian life". The Rosary stands revealed as a dynamic teacher and nurturer of Christian faith, morality, and spiritual perfection, fostering in various ways faith, hope, charity, and the other virtues, and mediating special graces, all to the end that we may become more and more like unto Christ.
The authentic Rosary is a happy combination of vocal and mental prayer, each of which is essential to the devotion. It is thus a kind of prayer that requires some raising of the soul to God. As Pius XI put it, "both piety and love, although always breathing forth the same words, do not, however, repeat the same thing, but they fervently express something ever new which the loving heart always sends forth."
Pope Benedict XVI in an address at the Basilica of St. Mary Major where he prayed the rosary with the faithful said:
“Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each "Hail Mary".
Until about the 15th century hundreds of mysteries were part of the Rosary devotion then the 15 mysteries that we know today were definitively fixed as "the Mysteries of the Rosary." Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, in 2002 added the five Luminous Mysteries.
Through the meditations of the complete Rosary one recalls and has impressed on his mind, the Popes tell us, "the chief mysteries of the Christian religion," "the mysteries of our Redemption," "the great mysteries of Jesus and His Mother united in joys, sorrows, and triumphs." The twenty mysteries are divided into four equal groups, known as "The Joyful," "The Sorrowful," "The Glorious," and "The Luminous Mysteries."