Here are some links for 7 October, the Feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.
As a youngster, I learned that St. Dominic was given the Rosary by the Blessed Virgin, and accepted that story of invention by divine intervention. Many years later, I learned that anecdote was only an austere version of the true story, simplified for young minds. The true origin of the Rosary is quite different, more interesting, and predates St. Dominic! Theologians have traced the origin of the Rosary back to the Ninth century, and a form of prayer that evolved in the monasteries of the early Irish church. Prayer and labor filled the days of the Irish monks, and one of the most important forms of monastic prayer was the daily chanting of the 150 psalms of David. Lay people around the monastery would hear the psalms every day as they were sung or recited, and the beauty of this form of prayer intrigued them. They yearned to join in, but the psalms were too long to memorize, copies could not be found since printing was rare, and few knew how to read Latin anyway. The lay people were however, determined to adapt this prayer form for their own use.
Sometime around 800 AD, the people’s desire to participate led to their reciting The Lord’s Prayer in response to every psalm recited by the monks. As this form of devotion became popular, people began to carry leather pouches of 150 pebbles, in order that they might keep count of their daily prayers when they were not in hearing distance of the monastery. A thin rope with 150 knots became less of a burden and soon replaced the bag of stones. The Celtic infatuation with the number three, soon saw the prayer rope evolve into a rope of 50 knots to be said three times, and this became an accepted standard…
Read on to find out about developments through medieval times, including the rosary’s association with Saint Dominic and his order.
Developments continue even into our own days, with the Jesus prayer added at Fatima in the early part of the 20th Century, and a fourth set of mysteries added by John Paul II recently.
The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted by Pope Pius V after the Christian victory over the Turks in 1571 and celebrates the powerful intercession and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary to those who are devoted to praying the Rosary and meditating on the mysteries of the life of Christ.
Third, technical instructions:
Fourth, a beautiful apostolic letter by John Paul II on the Rosary. This gives history, context, and a guide to meditation:
When prayed well in a truly meditative way, the Rosary leads to an encounter with Christ in his mysteries and so cannot fail to draw attention to the face of Christ in others, especially in the most afflicted. How could one possibly contemplate the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem, in the joyful mysteries, without experiencing the desire to welcome, defend and promote life, and to shoulder the burdens of suffering children all over the world? How could one possibly follow in the footsteps of Christ the Revealer, in the mysteries of light, without resolving to bear witness to his “Beatitudes” in daily life? And how could one contemplate Christ carrying the Cross and Christ Crucified, without feeling the need to act as a “Simon of Cyrene” for our brothers and sisters weighed down by grief or crushed by despair? Finally, how could one possibly gaze upon the glory of the Risen Christ or of Mary Queen of Heaven, without yearning to make this world more beautiful, more just, more closely conformed to God’s plan?
And finally, a series of videos to help you to meditate: