Have you ever noticed that the entire Dominican order wears a rosary on their left hip? Ever wondered why?
A Brief History
In the 13th century, the heresy of Albigenses was widespread. This heresy taught that all material creation was evil, causing a major problem for Church teaching; if all material things were corrupt then Jesus must not have become fully man. The heresy was an explicit denial of the mystery of the Incarnation — which, if it were true, would cause all sorts of Theological problems for the Church and the faithful.
St. Dominic was distraught by this. One night, feeling physical pain over the harm the heresy was causing, he spent the whole night in prayer in an attempt to do penance for the faithful. During the night, Mary appeared to offer guidance; “I want you to know that in this kind of warfare, the principal weapon has always been the Angelic Psalter…. Therefore, if you want to reach those hardened souls and win them over for God – preach my Psalter.”
At that time, the Psalter was a common name the rosary. It was referred to by this name because European monks recited all 150 Psalms weekly, keeping track using stones. People who lived nearby also desired to pray this Psalter, but often lacked the education to read or memorize all the Psalms. Thus, Christians began to pray 150 Our Father’s, keeping count with a string of knots. As time passed, the Hail Mary, then known as the Angelic Prayer (because it contained the words which Gabriel spoke to Mary at the Annunciation) was added. This is why Mary called it the Angelic Psalter.
At Mary’s word, St. Dominic preached and prayed the rosary fervently and the Angelic Psalter became wildly popular. Unfortunately, the practice declined steadily after his death. It was “reborn” in the 15th century after Jesus spoke to Blessed Alan de la Roche (another Dominican) in the Eucharist, telling him to preach the Psalter. From that point on, Blessed Alan preached of nothing else. The Dominican order followed suit and the prayer became predominant again. During this re-devotion, the Psalter came to be known by a different name: the rosary, meaning “crown of roses.” This is due to another disclosure by Mary, when she confirmed that each prayer said during the Psalter becomes a rose added to her heavenly crown.
The rosary’s effects are so powerful that the entire Dominican order began to wear a fifteen-decade rosary on their left hip, the same way a medieval soldier would don a sword. This tradition continues today, as any Dominican will tell you because the rosary remains their weapon of choice.
The Power of the Rosary
So many incredible occurrences -both big and small- have been attributed to the power of the rosary, and it’s hard to rectify these stories as mere coincidences.
- Once, a Catholic high school had scheduled a speaker for an assembly. About a week before, some controversial matters surfaced but administration decided to proceed anyways. Some Dominican sisters who taught there prayed extra rosaries. On the day of the assembly, a major water pipe burst, cancelling school and the speaker’s presentation.
- Catherine had a brain aneurysm when she was 35 years old. The doctors expected her to die. People lined the hospital on their knees praying the rosary for days. She survived — and then found out she had been pregnant the whole time! The baby was supposed to have an array of health issues, but after more prayers, her child was born perfectly healthy. Catherine lived 50 more years, prayed the rosary daily, and was known for always saying, “Don’t forget to take the Blessed Mother with you”. Her family of 11 kids and 60 grandkids has been protected over the years, and they attribute it to her many rosaries.
- When Dave needed to decide on a location for his medical residency, he wasn’t particularly interested in Oakhurst. Surprisingly, his visit to the hospital was gratifying. Returning home with the desire to pray, he searched for his rosary which had been lost for months. He found it on top of all the papers from Oakhurst he had just brought home. Dave decided to go to Oakhurst, and happily lived with his family in the area for over 30 years.
- Sabrina she was diagnosed with breast cancer and doctors told her she wouldn’t live to see her daughter graduate from 8th grade later that year. Members of her parish met every Sunday evening in the grotto (sun or snow) and prayed the Rosary for her healing. That spring, she went back to the doctor and all the cancer had disappeared. She is still alive and cancer free today (almost 15 years later)!
- After two consecutive miscarriages, Kate and Peter decided to pray a 54-day rosary novena. Shortly after finishing, they had a positive pregnancy test. According to the doctor, the date of conception was most likely the exact day that they finished their novena. Baby is currently healthy and due next month.
Promoted by the Vatican & Saints
Aside from the Mass, there is no prayer that the Vatican has encouraged as heavily as the rosary — which shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Magisterium has a sacred duty to protect the souls of the faithful and assist them in making it to heaven. If they mislead the flock, eternal consequences will be paid (Mt:18:6). Their advocacy is due to the collective witness of its power throughout the centuries, the amount of canonized saints who had a strong devotion to the rosary, and Mary’s continued request at every apparition to pray this prayer. A prayer with this strong of a “resume” is certainly good for anyone’s soul.
In my next post, I will share more incredible reasons you should consider making the rosary a part of your spiritual routine, as well as some tips and tricks for praying it together as a family. Stay tuned!