THE POWER OF THE ROSARY ACCORDING TO POPES, SAINTS AND BLESSEDS
Prof. Michael Ogunu
Coordinator of the Fatima Apostolate in Africa
According to tradition, the Rosary devotion was revealed to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin Mary who commanded him to spread it throughout the world. It soon became a popular Christian prayer, and was furthered by other saints such as Catherine of Siena. In the fifteenth century, Blessed Alan de la Roche had visions of Our Lady, in which she promised special spiritual favours to those who devoutly recited the Rosary.
In our times, the Blessed Virgin herself has solicitously recommended the Rosary – at Lourdes, Fatima and in several other apparitions approved by the Church. In her final apparition in Fatima, Portugal on October 13, 1917, She declared thus:
I am the Lady of the Rosary. I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and to ask pardon of their sins; they must not offend Our Lord anymore, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it everyday.
According to Sr. Lucia, one of the three shepherd children to whom Our Lady appeared at Fatima in 1917, “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families … that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary”.
Blessed Alan says that he has seen several people delivered from Satan’s bondage after taking up the holy rosary, even though they had previously sold themselves to him in body and soul by renouncing their baptismal vows and their allegiance to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Let all men, the learned and the ignorant, the just and the sinners, the great and the small praise and honour Jesus and Mary, night and day, by saying the most holy rosary” says St. Louis de Montfort. According to him,
When people say the Rosary together it is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking him. He can often overcome the prayer of an individual, but if this prayer is joined to that of other Christians, the devil has much more trouble in getting the best of it. It is very easy to break a single stick, but if you join it to others to make a bundle, it cannot be broken … Somebody who says his rosary alone only gains the merit of one rosary, but if he says it together with thirty other people he gains the merit of thirty rosaries. This is the law of public prayer. How profitable, how advantageous this is! ... Arm yourselves with the arms of God – with the holy rosary – and you will crush the devil’s head and you will stand firm in the face of all his temptations. This is why even the material rosary itself is such a terrible thing for the devil, and why the saints have used it to enchain devils and to chase them out of the bodies of people who were possessed.
“The immense good that this noble devotion [the rosary] has done to the world is well known”, says St. Alphonsus Liguori … “How many, by its means, have been delivered from sin! How many led to a holy life! How many to a good death, and are now saved!”. “If we want to help the souls in purgatory”, says the saint, “then we should say the rosary for them because the rosary gives them great relief”.
“The rosary is a weapon in our hands with which we can overcome the devil’s attacks” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina). “Our Lady has never refused me a grace through the recitation of the rosary” continued St. Pio of Pietrelcina, the famous Padre Pio. In his words, “The rosary is the weapon that wins all battles”.
The Servant of God Patrick Peyton says that “The rosary can bring families through all dangers and evils”.
What have the Popes said about the power of the Rosary?
Pope St. Pius V, one of the greatest Popes who ever ruled the Church, said the rosary every day.
“Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been favoured by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary” (Pope Pius IX). The Pope says that: “If you desire peace to reign in your hearts and families, gather together each evening to recite the rosary”.
Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical “On Devotion of the Rosary” issued September 1, 1883 “earnestly exhort all Christians to give themselves to the recital of the pious devotion of the Rosary publicly or privately in their own house, and family, and that unceasingly”. According to him, “The rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying”. “We strongly urge all the faithful, whether it be publicly in the Churches or in private homes and within the family, to pray the Rosary and, as far as possible, not to relent in this holy exercise”.
Benedict XV describes the Rosary as perfect prayer “because of the grace it obtains and because of the triumphs it achieves”.
Pius XI noted with admiration the innumerable multitude of holy men of every age and every condition who have always held the Rosary dear”. They have recited it with great devotion, and in every moment they have used it as a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight, to preserve the integrity of life, to acquire virtue more easily, and in a word, to attain real peace among men”. After enumerating the advantages of saying the Rosary, the Pope urged all Bishops to see it that the Rosary is more highly esteemed by all the faithful under their care. “Through your work and that of the priests who help you in the care of souls, its (Rosary’s) praises and advantages shall be preached and repeated to the faithful of every social class” (Encyclical on the Rosary, September 29, 1937).
Pope Pius XII prayed the fifteen-decade Rosary daily. “Ever since we were raised by the design of Divine Providence to the Supreme chair of Peter we have never ceased, in the face of approaching evils, to entrust to the most powerful protection of the Mother of God the destiny of the human family; we do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that we put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times (Encyclical on Recitation of the Rosary, September 15, 1951).
According to the Pontiff, “There is no surer means of calling down God’s blessings upon the family … than the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary”.
Pope John XXIII who gave us Vatican II in his five years Pontificate from 1958 through 1963 spoke out 38 times on the Rosary. He prayed the fifteen decade Rosary daily. “We want to declare in complete frankness and simplicity that the years have made Mary’s Rosary all the dearer to us. We never fail to recite it each day in its entirety and we intend to recite it with particular devotion during the coming month (Encyclical on the Rosary, September 26, 1959).
Pope Paul VI in his Marialis Cultus described the Rosary as “the compendium of the Gospels”. And in his Encyclical – Christi Matri – of September 15, 1966 he instructed all the Bishops of the world to take the lead in urging and encouraging people to pray ardently to our most merciful mother Mary by saying the Rosary. “This prayer is most pleasing to the Mother of God and most effective in gaining heaven’s blessings”. “We exhort all Catholic families to introduce this devotion [the rosary] into their lives, and to encourage its propagation”.
“From my youthful years”, says Pope John Paul II, “the Rosary has held an important place in my spiritual life … The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted a number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort … The Rosary is my favourite prayer (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, October 16, 2002). He led the Rosary on Vatican Radio on the first Saturday of the month. Like his predecessors, he, on several occasions, urged the faithful to pray the Rosary to obtain God’s blessings for themselves, their families, their nations and the whole world, through the intercession of the Mother of God. “To pray the rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother”, the Pope reaffirms.
According to Pope Benedict XVI, “The rosary is a spiritual weapon in the battle against evil, against all violence, for peace in hearts, in families, in society and in the world”.
In 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a small community of eight Jesuit Fathers, only eight blocks from the epicentre remained unharmed (the people and the building itself) while everyone else in a radius of 1.5 km from the centre was killed. Father Huber Schiffer (one of the eight priests) told the Eucharistic Congress of Philadelphia in 1976, when all eight members were alive and well, that 200 Scientists had carried out investigations for several years in search of Scientific explanation. He told them that there was only one thing that made their house different to the others: THEY RECITED THE ROSARY TOGETHER EVERYDAY.
The above statements by Popes, saints and blesseds on the power of the Rosary are not surprising because in her revelations to Blessed Alan de la Roche, Our Lady made the following 15 promises to all Christians who recite the Rosary devoutly daily:
According to Sr. Lucia, “The rosary is the prayer which God, through his Church and Our Lady, has recommended most insistently to us all, as a road to and gateway of salvation”.
Hence Pope Benedict XVI says: “I urge you all to recite the rosary every day, abandoning yourselves with trust in Mary’s hands”.
We should therefore hold fast to the treasure of the Rosary, the inestimable gift of Our Blessed Mother.
Professor Michael Ogunu is a Member of the International Board of Trustees of the World Apostolate of Fatima and President of the Executive Board of the World Apostolate of Fatima in Africa.