GREAT HISTORICAL VICTORIES OF THE ROSARY
victory over the albigensians
In the 13th century in the southern part of France called Languedoc, shortly after the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed it to St. Dominic,  the Rosary proved to be an invincible weapon against the enemies of the Church (for instance, at the Battle of Muret on September 12, 1213), as well as an extremely effective aid in preaching against heresy and in the conversion of souls. Thus was vanquished "that social war of such ill-omen for the Church" for "they suppressed at least the outward dominance of the Albigensian doctrine; but it continued secretly as the seed of all the errors that were to erupt in the 16th century."
Victories over Islam
When, later on, the Christian nations of the east had lost the faith which they themselves had transmitted to the western world; when they had disfigured the sacred symbol of faith by their blasphemous heresies; the anger of God sent upon them from Arabia, the deluge of Mahometanism. It swept away the Christian Churches, that had existed from the very times of the apostles....And we, the western nations, if we return not to the Lord our God, shall we be spared?4
Throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, Christian Europe was threatened by invasion. But it still had enough faith to repel the would-be invaders by taking up the strong arm of the Rosary, especially at Lepanto (October 7, 1571), Vienna (September 12, 1683), and Peterwardein (July 26, 1716). These victories were at the origin of the liturgical feasts of the Holy Name of Mary (September 12) and of the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (the first Sunday of October).
Victories over Protestantism
La Rochelle, France. In the 17th century when Protestantism dangerously threatened the kingdom of France, once again, it was the Rosary that delivered it.6 At the head of a powerful army, King Louis XIII tried to subdue the city of La Rochelle, which was supported by the English and constituted the principle avenue of Protestantism into France. At the king's order, the Rosary was first solemnly recited at the Dominican convent of Faubourg St-Honore at Paris in the presence of the entire court. Then the king called upon Fr. Louvet, O.P., a celebrated preacher of that era, to preach a mission to the army with several other friars. They distributed 15,000 rosaries among the troops, and every evening the besieged Protestants would see the Catholic troops carry a statue of the Madonna in triumphal, torchlight procession around the city to the cadenced sound of Ave Marias and the singing of canticles. The city fell. The king had the Dominicans enter the city first. They carried an immense white banner with a blue border on which was written " Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo–Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, who alone has crushed all the heresies in the world."
In thanksgiving, King Louis XIII had the Church of Our Lady of Victories built in Paris, and a few years later, persuaded that the birth of the dauphin (the future Louis XIV) was due to the intercession of our Lady, he had him enrolled in the Rosary Confraternity in presence of the entire court on November 6, 1638. Moreover, on February 10, 1638, the king had consecrated France to Mary.
In the Philippines
This victory was important because it saved Catholicism in all of Asia.
While elsewhere in the rest of the Asian continent the false religions violently opposed, in general, the implantation of Catholicism, and caused to flow in abundance the blood of the martyrs, the conversion of the Philippines was an event without parallel in history:8 in 40 years (from 15659 to 1605), without a single drop of blood being shed, the country became a model Christendom thanks to the Spanish. For the Church it became a providential base from which legions of missionaries set out to evangelize the other lands of Asia.
On March 15, 1646, a flotilla of Dutch Protestant ships, a formidable army, arrived at the large port of Manila.10 The Spanish and the Filipinos were unnerved, having nothing at their disposition but two merchant ships–The Incarnation and The Rosary–which they hastily armed as best they could. It was then that the venerable Fr. Jean de Conca, O.P., began to preach the Rosary to the sailors, and had them recite it in alternating choruses on the bridges of the two ships. The sailors vowed that if they should win, they would go on pilgrimage bare foot to the Virgin of the Rosary statue at the Dominican convent in Manila. From March to October, five violent encounters issued in five humanly impossible victories. The Protestant ships were demolished, while in the heavens a voice was heard saying, "Long live the Faith of Christ and the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary." Out of 200 men, the Catholics lost just 15. The Philippines remained within the Church.
An extraordinary propagation of the Rosary then occurred throughout the country, which became "The Kingdom of the Holy Rosary," according to the expression of Pope Pius XII.11Every year, and even today, an immense procession wends through Manila, in thanksgiving, behind the miraculous statue of the Virgin of the Rosary, preceded by 21 decorated floats bearing Dominican saints. Two hundred thousand people carrying candles follow the Madonna, and the Philippines are consecrated to our Lady at the end of the ceremony.12
The Triumph of the Rosary in Japan
The history of Japan shows us two important fruits of devotion to the Rosary: it upholds the courage of martyrs, and it enables the faithful to keep the true Catholic Faith. Here we see Catholicism assaulted by false oriental religions.
The Martyrs. It was August 15,1549, when St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) landed at Kagoshima, in the south of Japan. Despite the obstacle of militant, immoral Buddhism, the first evangelization was relatively easy. The feudal system had weakened the emperor's central power, allowing the missionaries to rely on the support of lords favorable to them. Also, St. Francis was dealing with a religious, intelligent people.
The Jesuits were the ones to introduce the Rosary into Japan, especially by diffusing a work on the 15 mysteries in Japanese. Unfortunately, in 1582, a new emperor came to power, hostile to Christianity, who reconstituted the political unity of the country. Supported and encouraged by the bonzes, he unleashed a violent persecution. On February 5, 1597, 26 Christians, among whom were 6 Franciscan missionaries and 3 Jesuit brothers, were crucified at Nagasaki. This did not prevent the Dominicans who came from the Philippines from landing in Japan in 1607, taking advantage of a lull in the persecution. Despite the difficulties, they founded confraternities of the Rosary everywhere, under the leadership of Blessed Alphonsus Navarrette, O.P. (1571-1617), Provincial Vicar in Japan.13 The missionaries put leaders or major-domos in charge of the confraternities, whose duties consisted in regularly assembling the faithful to recite the Rosary, to announce the mysteries, to read them the exposition of the mysteries that had been written by the Venerable Louis de Grenada, O.P., and to communicate the counsels and advice the fathers of the mission had given them.
But the Englishman William Adams, captain of a Dutch ship, denounced the Catholic missionaries to the new emperor, accusing them of spying on behalf of the Spanish for the invasion of Japan. An edict of 1614 expanded the persecution. The religious were massacred, the churches destroyed, and Christianity was forbidden under pain of death. But nothing could shake the brethren of the Rosary confraternities. They went to torture as to a feast, most of them donning the white robe and black cloak of the confraternity, and wearing their rosary around their neck or carrying it in their hand. When Japan shut itself off from the outside world in 1638, Rome was convinced that there were no more Catholics left in the country.
Catholics Without Priests. It was in 1858 that Japan opened its ports once again to foreigners. A new Catholic mission was inaugurated at Nagasaki on January 10, 1865. But what was the surprise of Fr. Petitjean, M.E.P.,14 on March 17, 1865, when he saw a group of some 15 Japanese enter his newly built church and announce that they were Catholics. They learned that there were thousands of them throughout the country. Deprived of priests by the persecution, they had continued to meet under the leadership of the major-domos of the Rosary confraternities. They had transmitted the Faith by means of the Rosary and the two sacraments that laymen can administer: baptism and marriage.15They showed the priests rosary beads that had been kept for two hundred years, as well as the works on the mysteries of the Rosary in ancient Japanese. Two years before, the Protestants had built a temple at Nagasaki, but finding there neither crucifix nor saint's image to venerate, the Japanese Catholics understood that it was not the true religion. They recognized the Catholic missionaries by three signs: devotion to our Lady, obedience to the Pope, and celibacy. "They are virgins, thank God, thank God," they cried out as they bowed low before Fr. Petitjean, who told them that Catholic priests are not married.
In memory of this discover of Catholics, a liturgical feast is celebrated annually in Japan on March 17, the feast of Beata Maria Virgo de inventione christianorum.16 The Mass celebrated is the one of the common of the feasts of the Blessed Virgin.17
The Wars of the Vendée
It is undeniable that the Rosary upheld the Vendean resistance of 1793-95, which led the Vendeans to the glory of martyrdom and which saved Catholicism in France, and this was thanks to the preaching of St. Louis de Montfort and his Montfortians. Some deny this.18 Professor Jean de Viguerie rebuts this assertion with his usual exactitude:
The real cause of the uprising was religious. The songs, prayers, the insignia, the name of the army–Catholic and Royal–conferred on it from its inception a religious character....Throughout the whole of the 18th century, this region benefitted from an intense evangelization thanks to the parish missions conducted by the Montfortian fathers, disciples of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort. A map of the Montfortian missions would show that during that century a great number of the insurgent parishes had received at least one visit of the missionaries. They instilled three devotions in the people's hearts: the Cross, the Blessed Sacrament, and the Rosary....Without this missionary apostolate, and without the spirit of sacrifice that it fostered, the Vendée cannot be understood.19
In his description of the Vendée between 1793 and 1795, written in 1818, Jean Alexander Cavoleau wrote: "On the march and in the encampments, they devoted themselves to all the practices of devotion. I came across a large group as they knelt and very devoutly recited the Rosary; then I saw them march off singing hymns."20 In her Memoirs, the Marchioness de la Rochejaquelein remarks that after the fall of Bressuire (May 2, 1793):
Thus, they would recite the entire Rosary daily.
Victories over Communism
The October Revolution of 1917 in Russia was not a simple coup d'etat perpetrated to effect a regime change; above all it aimed at "spreading throughout the world the institutions and morals of atheism."22It occurred, moreover, during the great conflict of 1914-18, which was the first of the wars aiming at the establishment of a world government. It was the supreme assault against the social reign of Christ.23
"The devil has engaged in a decisive battle, the final battle, where one of the two will emerge victor," the Virgin Mary told Sr. Lucy of Fatima.24"In this battle, the Virgin Mary, who calls herself Our Lady of the Rosary,25 comes to say that the ultimate remedies given to the world are the holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 'Ultimate' means that there will be no more given."26
Our Lady's triumph which she promised in her apparition of October 13, 1917, at Fatima, will result from the widespread practice of the Communion of reparation of the five first Saturdays, and by the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope and the bishops united to him.
As for the Rosary, an integral part of devotion to our Lady's heart, "in these latter days in which we are living, the most holy Virgin, has given it a greater efficacy," proportioned to the gravity of the hour. We shall look at two characteristic examples.
Austria (1955). At the end of WWII, Austria had been partitioned into four zones occupied by the Allies: American, English, French, and Russian.27 The Russians were in control of the part that included the capital, Vienna, and the part richest in natural resources and industry; thus it was very interesting to Moscow, which garrisoned an extremely large number of troops there.
On November 25, 1945, the elections that were held in the whole country spelled a resounding defeat for the Communists, who only won 4 seats out of 165. Nevertheless, the Voice of the People, the party newspaper, reported: "We have lost a battle, but we are just at the beginning of the war in Austria, and that war we shall win." Indeed, pressure increased steadily in the occupied zone, accompanied by murders and looting, confirming Moscow's intention to definitively annex the country.
It was then that a Franciscan priest intervened, one Fr. Petrus Pavlicek (1901-82). Returning from captivity in 1946, he made a pilgrimage in thanksgiving to Mariazell, the Magna Mater Austriae, the loving Mother of Austria. In his prayers, while asking our Lady what he could do to deliver his country, he heard a voice within tell him: "Do what I tell you: pray the Rosary every day, and there will be peace."
After a year of reflection, on February 2, 1947, he launched a Rosary crusade of reparation in the spirit of Fatima, with the following goals: reparation for the offenses given to God, the conversion of sinners, peace and salvation for the world, and especially for Austria. A year later, in 1948, 10,000 persons had enlisted in the prayer crusade, including Chancellor Figl, the leading politician of the country.28 The faithful promised to recite the Rosary at home for the liberation of the country, public recitations were organized in the churches, and processions of several hundreds and sometimes thousands of people reciting the Rosary wended their way through towns and villages.
In 1949, the situation became more and more critical, and the anxiety grew when it was learned what had happened in the adjoining countries: Czechoslovakia and Hungary had fallen into the hands of the Communists, and the Church was being persecuted; Cardinal Mindszenty had been judged and condemned. As new elections were coming up in Austria, Fr. Petrus decided to intensify the crusade: five days of public prayer were organized. At Vienna, confessions were heard day and night, and 50,000 people visited the Franciscan convent. The result was that the Communists only won five seats in the elections. But they did not intend to let it go at that, and everyone expected a coup d'etat.
Pius XII said to another Austrian priest at that time during a private audience: "Vienna is the last rampart of Europe. If Vienna falls, Europe will fall. If Vienna stands fast, Europe will stand fast. The Catholics of Vienna do not have the right to be mediocre. Tell the Viennese again and again. And tell them that the Pope is praying a great deal, yes, that he is praying very much for Austria."
Then Fr. Petrus organized a new public prayer rally of three days at Vienna, which was to conclude on September 12, feast of the Holy Name of Mary, a great day of rejoicing in Austria because it commemorates the victory of Sobieski over Islam. Then Fr. Petrus decided to organize a great Rosary procession in the city center. The Archbishop of Vienna was reticent. He feared that the Catholics would not mobilize, so much had been asked of them already. But the federal Chancellor Figl replied: "Even if there are only two, I'll be there. For our country, it is worth it." There were 35,000 people, with Chancellor Figl at the head, rosary and candle in hand.
It was just in time, for by the end of the month the Communists attempted a military coup d'etat. They proclaimed a general strike; the General Chancellery suffered an initial occupation. But the anti-Communist unions launched their members, armed with sticks, to the counter-attack. The strike was broken and the revolutionary coup d'etat failed. The Rosary crusade at the time numbered 200,000 members.
Nonetheless, at Berlin, Molotov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, taunted Chancellor Figl: "Have no hope. What we Russians once possess, we never let go." Chancellor Figl communicated to Fr. Petrus: "Have them pray now more than ever."
Fr. Petrus continued to crisscross the country to recruit members for the crusade. In April, 1955, it comprised 500,000 members. Then the new Chancellor, Raab, was summoned to Moscow. He wondered what was going to happen. He was received on a 13th of the month. On the evening of the interview he jotted in his agenda: "Today, a day of Fatima. The Russians are still hardened. Prayer to the Mother of God that she aid the Austrian people."
Humanly speaking, all was lost. But it is exactly at such moments that God intervenes if one has kept the faith, and if one has persevered in prayer. And in fact, in May 1955, there was a miracle. Contrary to all previsions, Molotov suddenly granted independence to Austria. After ten years of fights and struggles without issue, the Red menace disappeared as if by the stroke of a magic wand. The last Russian soldier left Austria on October 26, 1955, the month of the Rosary. Thereafter, that date became a national holiday in Austria.
A grandiose thanksgiving ceremony was organized in Vienna at the Heroes Square in the presence of political and religious personages. All the speeches proclaimed the Virgin of the Rosary as the cause of the victory.
Brazil (1964). In 1964, President Joao Goulart attempted to organize the selling-out of his country to Communism following the Cuban model. He had succeeded in infiltrating key governmental posts as well as the schools and universities in most of the country. But for almost all the preceding year, Fr. Patrick Peyton, of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, had preached a Rosary crusade, crisscrossing the country in order to convince the faithful to turn to our Lady. In the moment of danger, the people remembered. It was the Brazilian women who mobilized first, parading by the millions in the streets of the cities while reciting the Rosary. Once, in the city of Belo Horizonte, they prevented a conference of Lionel Brizola, the Cuban ambassador, from being held when 3,000 of them surged into the hall where he was to speak as they recited the Rosary. On leaving, Brizola found the streets equally full, as far as the eye could see, with women praying. He departed the city with one of the most incendiary speeches of his career still in his pocket, undelivered.
On March 13, 1964, Goulart decreed the amendment of the Constitution, the abolition of Congress, and the confiscation of industries and farms.
That unleashed the women's riposte. The following text was passed throughout Brazil:
This immense and marvelous land which God has given us, is in extreme peril. We have allowed men with unlimited ambition, devoid of all Christian faith and scruples, to bring misery to our people, to destroy our economy, to perturb our social peace, to sow hatred and despair. They have infiltrated our nation, our administrations, our army, and even our Church, with servants of a totalitarianism which is foreign to us and which would destroy all that we hold dear....Holy Mother of God, protect us from the fate that threatens us, and spare us the sufferings inflicted on the martyred women of Cuba, Poland, Hungary, and the other nations reduced to slavery.
New, grandiose "Rosary marches" were organized in all the country, in which men, women and young people participated, while Luiz Carlos Prestes, head of the Brazilian Communist party, crowed, "We've already seized the power."
But little by little, the president found himself abandoned on all sides. The governors of the states, the deputies, and army generals left him one after the other. On March 26, to save the country, the military took power without any blood being shed. Goulart and the Communist leaders of the unions fled.
On April 2, the entire population of Rio and the surrounding cities took to the streets for a gigantic prayer march which ended in a grand finale of thanksgiving to our Lord and our Lady.
In July, Fr. Valerio Alberton, Promoter of the Marian confraternities of Brazil, traveled to Fatima to thank the most holy Virgin for the liberation of his country. "We have vanquished thanks to Our Lady of the Rosary," he declared.
It is the message of Fatima lived in Brazil, which has saved us....The repeated calls to prayer and penance according to the spirit of Fatima revived faith, a faith that moves mountains, and the impossible happened: the miracle of a great war won without bloodshed. The counter-revolutionary high command anticipated at least three months of heavy fighting. Then a force humanly speaking inexplicable caused, as if by enchantment, the entire military operation, which had been diabolically and patiently erected over the course of several years, to collapse like a house of cards. The evidence of a signal grace at work was so strong that all were convinced that the unfolding of events did not have a human explanation. The civil and military leaders of the counter-revolution were almost unanimous in attributing this victory to a special grace of the most Blessed Virgin. Several declared that the Rosary had been the decisive weapon.29
The scope of this article does not allow us to give other details or more examples of the power of the Rosary. We have evoked the most characteristic. Of course, the victories of the Rosary are not limited to this impressive litany of victories which stand as milestones in the history of Christianity. Even more numerous are the personal, family, and community victories obtained by Mary's Rosary. In The Admirable Secret of the Most Holy Rosary, St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, for example, recounts numerous conversions of sinners obtained by the Rosary. Every reader of this article could or will recount the graces which praying the Rosary has gained for him.
"The Virgin of the Rosary has not ceased winning victories. For that, she only awaits on our part redoubled fervor, more filial trust, and unflinching courage."30 The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary announced at Fatima will be a victory of the Rosary, and not the least. Having already been victorious–each time it was employed–over Albigensianism (or Catharism), Islam, Protestantism, Jansenism, Freemasonry, Revolution, Communism, and all the enemies of the Church, the Rosary will deliver the Church from modernism, "the synthesis of all heresies";31 it will deliver the temporal city from the errors spawned by the French Revolution. "My dear children," wrote Msgr. Sarto, the future St. Pius X, on September 21, 1885, "because in our time a deplorable intellectual pride which refuses all submission, corrupts hearts, and saps Christian morality, holds sway, there is no surer means of securing the triumph of the Faith than meditation of the mysteries of the Rosary."
Fr. Marie-Dominique, a Frenchman, is a member of the Dominican community at Avrillé, France. He was ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1982, and he teaches Moral Theology at the Couvent de la Haye-aux-Bonshommes.
1. See "The Origin of the Rosary" (The Angelus, Feb. 2003) marshalling convincing arguments in favor of the traditional belief that the form of the Rosary as we know it was revealed to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin.
5. The second stage was the establishment of Freemasonry in 1717, which unleashed the Revolution of 1789. The third stage was the Communist Revolution of October 1917 in Moscow. Protestantism rejected the Church, the French Revolution dethroned our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Communist Revolution rejected the action of God in the world.
6. Cf. L'Annee dominicaine (Lyons: Jevain) Jan. 25, 1883, "The Venerable Fr. Jean-Baptiste Carre, O.P., prior of the convent of Faubourg St-Honore," pp. 781-82; Feb. 14,1884, "The Venerable Fr. Pierre Louvet, O.P.," pp. 480-81; May 31, 1891, "The Venerable Fr. Timothee Ricci," pp. 832-34.
9. The Philippines were discovered by Ferdinand de Magellan on March 31, 1521, but he was massacred with his companions by a savage tribe for political reasons. The evangelization thus was not able to begin until the Spanish returned with Augustinian monks in 1565.
10. The danger was not small. In 1657, in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the Dutch Protestants were to destroy the Christendom founded there by St. Francis Xavier. Churches were demolished, and priests and the faithful were massacred. Fifty thousand Catholics had to flee into the jungle, where Catholicism was able to survive in secret for 150 years. In order to annihilate it even more completely, the Protestants had some bonzes from Siam come in order to reimplant Buddhism in Ceylon, where it was moribund. The Dutch Protestants built for them temples and golden Buddhas. For more information, one can turn to the magnificent work of Fr. Duchaussois, O.M.I., Sous les feux de Ceylon (Paris: Grasset, 1929).
12. For the history, one can consult Maria: Studies on the Blessed Virgin, under the direction of Hubert du Manoir, S.J. (Paris: Beauchesne, 1958); the article "Le culte de la sainte Vierge aux Philippines," by Fr. J. Riou, S.J., p. 668; L'Annee dominicaine (Lyons: Jevain, 1906) for Nov. 27, "The Ven. Fr. Jean de Conca, O.P.," pp. 811-12.
15. Our Lord had arranged things so that the two sacraments most necessary for the survival of the Church can be administered in the absence of priests: baptism, which gives the Church members, and marriage, which conserves the life of the Christian community by renewing its sons (Summa Theologica, III, Q. 65, Art. 4).
17. For further information, one can refer to the following works: Henri Mora, M.E.P., "La devotion mariale au Japon," Maria, IV, 981-99; Fr. Andre Pradel, O.P., Manuel du tres saint rosaire (Mazeres: Procures des dominicains, 1884) pp. 334-337; Annee dominicaine, June 1, 1893, "Le bienheureux Alphonse Navarrette, O.P.," pp. 1-14.
18. For instance, Louis Perouas, in a bad book published by Cerf Publishing in 1989, Grignion de Montfort et la Vendee. The author denies the Montfortian influence in the Vendean rising on the pretext that "The Mulotins [Montfortians] took no part in the troops' operations, nor in the generals' councils.... The Daughters of Wisdom did not play the role of secret agents... nor were they attached as nurses to the troops" (p. 110). That proves nothing.
23 We will not expound upon it here, but it is clear that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was not the death knell of Communism. It might change tactics and methods according to circumstances, but today it is far from dead, in the east as well as in the rest of the world, and the "institutions and morals of atheism" which it inaugurated in 1917 advance unchecked. One might consult the essay of the Reverend Delestre, "Russia Will Spread Her Errors Throughout the World.. .in the End, My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph" (French), Sel de la Terre, No. 39, pp. 254-58.
27. We found the details of these events in two brochures published in Austria: Philipp Mayer, Wie es zur Freiheit Osterreichs kam, Rosenkranz-Suh-nekreuzzug um den Frieden der Welt (Vienna: Franziskanerplatz 4,1995); Fr. Benno Mikocki, O.F.M., Gebet in der Not eines Volkes (Modling: Missionsdruckerei Sankt Gabriel, 1985).