This feast was initiated by Pope Pius V to celebrate the victory of Christian forces over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Originally, Pope Pius V declared it the feast of Our Lady of Victory. Later, Pope Gregory XIII changed the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary in order to recognize that the victory of Lepanto was due to the intercession of Our Lady through the recitation of the Rosary.
While the origins of the rosary are generally unknown, it is most likely that the idea and structure of the rosary developed over time. Beginning with repeating prayers on a string of beads from pre-Christian times, Christians would take this concept and combine it with prayers such as the Our Father and the Hail Mary. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the rosary would continue to develop into what we have today.
There is also worth mentioning, the tradition of St. Dominic’s relation to the rosary. Followers of St. Dominic believe that, this saint had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she gave him the rosary and urged praying of the rosary. Inspired by the vision, St. Dominic spread the practice of praying the rosary. Today, it is uncertain as to whether this story is true, but “at least a dozen popes have mentioned St. Dominic’s connection with the rosary, sanctioning his role as at least a ‘pious belief.'” (ewtn.com).
Our Lady has also encouraged us to pray the rosary in her visions at Fatima, where she told the children, “they were to say the Rosary for peace and the end of the war.” (God-Sent, 109).
- God-Sent: A History of the Accredited Apparitions of Mary. Roy Abraham Varghese (Crossroad Publishing Company: NY), 2000.
- photo from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_the_Rosary