The Power of Our Lady of the Rosary

by Donal Anthony Foley –

One of the most important aspects of the Fatima Message was the way in which Our Lady focused particularly on the Rosary. At each of her six apparitions she emphatically asked for it to be said daily, and in May, she specifically asked that it be prayed “to obtain peace for the world and an end to the war.” These twin themes were repeated by her through the summer, culminating in her October 13 apparition when she said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.” As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7, it is good to take a look at the history behind this important title that Our Lady identified herself at Fatima.

At Lourdes, Our Lady called herself the “Immaculate Conception”, but at Fatima she took her title from the Rosary. Why this focus on the Rosary? For her to emphasize it in this way must mean it has an extraordinary power with God, and this is just what history tells us. Incidents from centuries ago show this, such as the defeat of the Albigensian heresy by St. Dominic through the power of the Rosary, or the victory gained at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, again through the power of the Rosary.

This sea battle was very significant for European and indeed world history. It took place on Oct. 7, 1571 and involved a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic states, which fought against the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire near Lepanto, off western Greece.

Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory and the Holy League won the battle decisively, preventing the invasion of Europe. At the moment of victory, Pius V, who was many hundreds of miles away at the Vatican in a meeting, got up, went over to a window and exclaimed: “The Christian fleet is victorious!” Out of this triumph came the feast of the Holy Rosary, celebrated yearly on October 7.

Lepanto was crucial because Europe as a whole would have been wide open to Muslim conquest if the Christian forces had been defeated.

In light of this victory, it is significant that Fatima, Portugal takes its name from the youngest daughter of the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. Portugal and Spain were occupied by the Muslims for centuries and during this time the locality around the spot where Our Lady appeared in 1917 – as “Our Lady of the Rosary” – was named Fatima. Mary has a very exalted place in Islam since she is the only woman named in the Quran, which describes her as being chosen above all other women. All of this indicates a connection between Islam, Our Lady, the Rosary and Fatima.

More recently, in 1955, the great efficacy of the Rosary was demonstrated once again. This occurred when, following World War II, the occupying Soviet Army voluntarily left the Eastern zone of Austria after Franciscan Father Petrus Pavlicek organized a Rosary Crusade in the country from 1946 onwards, which eventually had 10 percent of the population of seven million praying five decades of the Rosary daily for peace.

This was the only time in the history of the Soviet Union that the Red Army voluntarily withdrew from a European country it had occupied. And it happened on the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition. In contrast, the attempted revolutions in Hungary, in 1956, and Czechoslovakia, in 1968, were brutally put down.

Even more recently, in Brazil in the 1960s and Portugal in the 1970s, the power of the Rosary was again demonstrated when incipient communist coups in both countries were thwarted.

These historical incidents show that while it is good to pray the Rosary as an individual, it is much more powerful if we pray it as part of a group.

This was the teaching of St. Louis de Montfort who said that if we do this, then we multiply the effectiveness of our Rosary. That is, if a person says a Rosary, it is just one Rosary, but if 10 people pray it together, it is the same as if each of them has said 10 Rosaries. And this multiplying effect becomes even more marked with larger numbers; hence, the explanation for the power of all those Rosaries said in Austria.

What is really needed in the United States, and indeed in countries around the world, are national Rosary pledge campaigns, like the one organized by Fr. Pavlicek in Austria. If believers around the world started to pray the Rosary regularly for the moral regeneration of their own country, then we would start to see real changes. This is because such prayers would call down graces of conversion that would lead to lapsed Catholics returning to the practice of their faith and to a general revitalization of the Church.

Mary told the shepherd children during the July apparition, “Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.”

“Our Lady of the Rosary” is certainly not an empty title; it is up to us to pray the Rosary with heartfelt devotion in order to bring about conversions and peace to our world.

This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Soul Magazine, available online here.

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