Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
As you might know, the origins of the feast date back to 7 October 1571 when the fleets of several Christian nations under the leadership of Don John of Austria defeated the Turkish fleet in a naval battle which took place in the Bay of Lepanto. The results was significant because it was the first major defeat of the Turkish fleet, it helped stem the tide of the Turkish advancement, it liberated many Christians who were help captive, and it came after many led by St. Pius V prayed the Rosary to ask for a victory. In thanks to God and Our Lady, St. Pius V ordered that an annual celebration of Our Lady of Victory be held to commemorate the event. Eventually, the feast was renamed to Our Lady of the Rosary.
One saint who was particularly devoted to the Rosary was St. Louis de Montfort. Born in Montfort, France 1673, as the second of eighteen children, he left home at the age of 12 to begin studies in Rennes. He proved to be a good student and also benefited from the guidance of his uncle who was a local parish priest.
After discerning his vocation, he continued his studies and was ordained a priest in 1700. During his seminary studies, he had worked as a librarian and used his frequent access to library to study many subjects including the early Church Fathers, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the history of Marian consecration.
He began his apostolate as a itinerant priest who preached parish missions. He became known for his forceful and effective preaching against a major heresy of the day, Janesenism, and also taught the Rosary as a key to a healthy spiritual life. Not everyone appreciated his work, and his preaching against Jansenism got him tossed out of several dioceses. In response, he walked to Rome and received permission from the pope to continue his itinerant ministry of giving parish missions.
He is known for his writings on the Rosary in the book the Secret of the Rosary and his book True Devotion to Mary. Interestingly, the latter book was not published in his lifetime. A manuscript was found in 1842 which was long after his death in 1716. Even then, the book was not published until 1853 after the Vatican had declared it free of error. True Devotion to Mary has had a profound impact upon many including notably St. John Paul II who commented several times on the impact that the book had upon him and his devotion to Our Lady.
Other facts you might not know about St. Louis was the he was a third order Dominican, and after being ordained he asked to be a missionary to America. He joined the third order of the Dominicans to more effectively pray and preach about the Rosary. And his request to be a foreign missionary was turned down because it was considered better to have him give parish missions.
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