The Holy Rosary: The Growth
The devotion grew and blossomed in the early part of the second millenium and has helped in the vitality of the Christian community. Successive Popes have encouraged and fostered it. Pope St. Pious V, a Dominical, after his election in 1566, wrote the first Encyclical Letter on the Rosary. He established its essential format, revealed its values, and strongly recommended it to the faithful.
Pope Gregory XIII (1573) in his many documents conferred on it indulgences and privileges, and blessed the first Confraternity of the Rosary. Successive Popes stressed the value of the devotion and its riches. In particular, we remember Pope XIII (1878-1903) who recommended the Rosary in no less than 22 documents. He emphasized the excellence of this prayer as a means of strenghtening our faith and promoting Christian values.
It was Pope Leo XIII who dedicated the month of October to the Holy Rosary. Among the recent Popes who distinguished themselves in promotion devotion to the Holy Rosary, Blessed John XXIII and Paul VI have a special place. Pope Paul VI wrote the beautiful Apostolic Exhortation: "Marialis Cultus." In it he stressed the evangelical character and chistocentric inspiration of this devotion as seen in the documents of the Vatican II Council.
The present Holy Father John Paul II, a great devotee of the Blessed Virgin, declared the year October 2002-2003, a year of the Rosary, and dedicated it to peace in the world. In his Apostolic Letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" he encourages and exhorts the faithful to pray the Rosary. Like a true and loving Father, he shares with us his own personal devotion and love for Mother Mary. He says: "From my youthful years this prayer has found an important place in my spiritual life. The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort." (RVM 2)
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