Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of the Rosary, also known as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary in relation to the Rosary.

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, formerly known as Our Lady of Victory and Feast of the Holy Rosary, is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church, celebrated on 7 October, the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League of 1571 over the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto.

According to Dominican tradition, in 1206, St. Dominic was in Prouille, France, attempting to convert the Albigensians back to the Catholic faith. The young priest had little success until one day he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin, who gave him the Rosary as a tool against heretics.[1] While Mary's giving the rosary to St. Dominic is generally acknowledged as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of St. Dominic, including the 15th-century priest and teacher, Alanus de Rupe.[2]

In 1571, Pope Pius V organized a coalition of forces from Spain and smaller Christian kingdoms, republics and military orders, to rescue Christian outposts in Cyprus, particularly the Venetian outpost at Famagusta which, however, surrendered after a long siege on August 1 before the Christian forces set sail. On October 7, 1571, the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, sailed from Messina, Sicily, and met a powerful Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Lepanto. Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct materiel disadvantage, the holy pontiff, Pope Pius V, called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory,[3][4] and led a rosary procession in Rome.[5]

After about five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece, the combined navies of the Papal States, Venice and Spain managed to stop the Ottoman navy, slowing the Ottoman advance to the west and denying them access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas.[6] If the Ottomans had won then there was a real possibility that an invasion of Italy could have followed so that the Ottoman sultan, already claiming to be emperor of the Romans, would have been in possession of both New and Old Rome.[7] Combined with the unfolding events in Morocco where the Sa'adids successfully spurned the Ottoman advances, it confined Turkish naval power to the eastern Mediterranean.[6] Although the Ottoman Empire was able to build more ships, it never fully recovered from the loss of trained sailors and marines, and was never again the Mediterranean naval power it had become the century before when Constantinople fell.

Pius V instituted "Our Lady of Victory" as an annual feast to commemorate the victory at Lepanto, which he attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.[5]

Dedications to Our Lady of Victory had preceded this papal declaration. In particular, Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester built the first shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Victory in thanks for the Catholic victory over the Albigensians at the Battle of Muret on September 12, 1213.[5] In thanksgiving for victory at the Battle of Bouvines in July 1214, Philip Augustus of France founded the Abbey of Notre Dame de la Victoire, between Senlis and Mont l'Evêque.[8]

In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the "Feast of Our Lady of Victory" to "Feast of the Holy Rosary", to be celebrated on the first Sunday of October.[9] Dominican friar Juan Lopez in his 1584 book on the rosary states that the feast of the rosary was offered "in memory and in perpetual gratitude of the miraculous victory that the Lord gave to his Christian people that day against the Turkish armada".[10]

In 1671 the observance of this festival was extended by Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Clement XI, after the victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene in the Battle of Petrovaradin on 5 August 1716 (the feast of Our Lady of the Snows), commanded the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church.[2]

Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double of the second class and added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary". On this feast, in every church in which the Rosary confraternity has been duly erected, a plenary indulgence toties quoties is granted upon certain conditions to all who visit therein the Rosary chapel or statue of Our Lady. This has been called the "Portiuncula" of the Rosary.

Pius X in 1913 changed the date to 7 October, as part of his effort to restore celebration of the liturgy of the Sundays. In 1960 under Pope John XXIII it is listed under the title "Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary"; and under the 1969 liturgical reforms of Pope Paul VI "Our Lady of the Rosary" is mentioned as a mandatory memorial.[11]

Our Lady of the Rosary is the patron saint of several places around the world. The diocese of Malaga, Spain (which, however celebrates her patronage on September 8), and the Spanish cities of Melilla and Trujillo celebrate Our Lady of Victories as their patroness. Furthermore, María del Rosario is a common female Spanish name (colloquially abbreviated to Rosario or Charo). Rosario can also be used as a male first name, particularly in Italian. The cathedral for the Diocese of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio is named after Our Lady Of the Rosary.

The cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary is located in Duluth, Minnesota.[15] The cathedral church of the Diocese of San Bernardino, California, is also named in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary.[16] The church of Our Lady of the Rosary on State Street in New York City began in 1883 as the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary for the protection of Irish immigrant girls; it houses the shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.[17] A new Sanctuary was erected in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás and apparitions and locations were approved "worthy of belief" by the local ordinary in May 2006.[18] Our Lady of the Rosary church is in Jashpur, Chhattisgarh, India. It is the second largest church in Asia, by seating capacity which can accommodate 10,000 worshippers.[19]. The or Holy Rosary Cathedral is located in Vancouver, Canada.

Although the title Our Lady of Victory has been superseded to some extent by that of Our Lady of the Rosary, the former is still in popular use at a number of parishes and schools.