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Devotion to the Holy Rosary

by St. Louis de Montfort

This Miraculous Way in which the devotion to the Holy Rosary was established is something of a parallel to the way in which Almighty God gave His law to the world on Mount Sinai, and obviously proves its value and importance.

Inspired by the Holy Ghost, instructed by the Blessed Virgin as well as by his own experience, Saint Dominic preached the Holy Rosary for the rest of his life. He preached it by his example as well as by his sermons, in cities and in country places, to people of high station and low, before scholars and the uneducated, to Catholics and to heretics.

The Holy Rosary which he said every day was his preparation for every sermon and his little tryst with Our Lady immediately after preaching.


St. Dominic, the great preacher

One day he had to preach at Notre Dame in Paris, and it happened to be the feast of St. John the Evangelist. He was in a little chapel behind the high altar prayerfully preparing his sermon by saying the Rosary, as he always did, when Our Lady appeared to him ... Carthagena, the great scholar, quoting Blessed Alan de la Roche in De Dignitate Psalterii, describes how this took place:

“Blessed Alan writes that one day Father Dominic said to him in a vision: ‘My son, it is good to preach; but there is always a danger of looking for praise rather than the salvation of souls. Listen carefully to what happened to me in Paris so that you may be on guard against this kind of mistake: I was to preach in the great church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and I was particularly anxious to give a brilliant sermon, not out of pride, but because of the high intellectual stature of the congregation.

‘An hour before the time I had to preach, I was recollectedly saying my Rosary — as I always did before giving a sermon — when I fell into ecstasy. I saw my beloved friend, the Mother of God, coming towards me with a book in Her hand.

«Dominic,» She said, «your sermon for today may be very good indeed, but no matter how good it is, I have brought you one that is very much better.»

‘Of course I was overjoyed, took the book and read every word of it. Just as Our Lady had said, I found exactly the right things to say in my sermon, so I thanked Her with all my heart.

‘When it was time to begin, I saw that the University of Paris had turned out in full force, as well as a large number of noblemen. They had all seen and heard of the great things that the good Lord had been doing through me. So I went up into the pulpit.

‘It was the feast of Saint John the Apostle but all I said about him was that he had been found worthy to be the guardian of the Queen of Heaven. Then I addressed the congregation: «My Lords and illustrious Doctors of the University, you are accustomed to hearing learned sermons suited to your aesthetic tastes. Now I do not want to speak to you in the scholarly language of human wisdom but, on the contrary, to show you the Spirit of God and His Greatness.»’”

Here ends the quotation from Blessed Alan, after which Carthagena goes on to say in his own words:

“Then Saint Dominic explained the Angelic Salutation to them, using simple comparisons and examples from everyday life.”

Blessed Alan, according to Carthagena, mentioned several other times when Our Lord and Our Lady appeared to Saint Dominic to urge and inspire him to preach the Rosary more and more in order to wipe out sin and to convert sinners and heretics.

In another passage Carthagena says:

“Blessed Alan said Our Lady revealed to him that after She had appeared to Saint Dominic, Her Blessed Son appeared to him and said:

‘Dominic, I rejoice to see that you are not relying upon your own wisdom and that, rather than seek the empty praise of men, you are working with great humility for the salvation of souls.

‘But many priests want to preach thunderously against the worst kinds of sin at the very outset, failing to realize that before a sick person is given bitter medicine, he needs to be prepared by being put in the right frame of mind to really benefit by it.

‘This is why, before doing anything else, priests should try to kindle a love of prayer in people’s hearts and especially a love of my Angelic Psalter. If only they would all start saying it and would really persevere, God, in His mercy, could hardly refuse to give them His grace. So I want you to preach My Rosary.’”

In another place Blessed Alan says:

“All priests say a Hail Mary with the faithful before preaching, to ask for God’s grace. They do this because of a revelation that Saint Dominic had from Our Lady. ‘My son,’ She said one day, ‘do not be surprised that your sermons fail to bear the results you had hoped for. You are trying to cultivate a piece of ground which has not had any rain. Now when Almighty God planned to renew the face of the earth, He started by sending down rain from Heaven — and this was the Angelic Salutation. In this way God made over the world.

‘So when you give a sermon, urge people to say My Rosary, and in this way your words will bear much fruit for souls.’

“Saint Dominic lost no time in obeying, and from then on he exerted great influence by his sermons.”

This last quotation is from the Book of Miracles of the Holy Rosary.

I have been very glad to quote these well-known authors word for word in the original Latin, for the benefit of any priests or other learned people who might otherwise have doubts as to the marvelous power of the Holy Rosary.

As long as priests followed Saint Dominic’s example and preached devotion to the Holy Rosary, piety and fervor thrived throughout the Christian world and in those religious orders which were devoted to the Rosary. But since people have neglected this gift from Heaven, all kinds of sin and disorder have spread far and wide.

“Those who say it (the Rosary) fervently and frequently will gradually grow in grace and holiness and will enjoy the special protection of Our Lady and the abiding friendship of God. No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary — either he will give up sin or he will give up the Rosary.” — Bishop Hugh