It is said that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Dominic Guzman, whose feast day we celebrate today, and gave him the Rosary in the form in which we now recognise it. This occurred as the Albigensian heresy was wreaking havoc in the Church and leading many souls astray from the true Faith. Dominic had been preaching tirelessly against this heresy but without any real success. It was then that the Queen of Heaven appeared before him, holding out to him the beads of the Rosary and telling him that in order to convert souls, there was one single thing he needed to do – “Preach My Psalter”.
At that time, what we now call the Rosary was referred to as the ‘Psalter of Mary’– a collection of one hundered and fifty Hail Mary’s to be prayed by the laity in a similar way to the praying of the one hundred and fifty Psalms by the clergy. Doing as he had been commanded, Dominic’s preaching began to have great success and many souls were led back to the Faith.
What is interesting about the story is that it makes very clear that the Blessed Virgin is deeply concerned about the good of souls, such that She offers a very particular means of helping them – through the prayer of the Rosary.
In his extraordinary book, ‘The Glories Of Mary’, Saint Alphonsus de Liguori writes –
“When God saw the great desire of Mary to devote Herself also to the salvation of men, He ordained that by the sacrifice and offering of the life of this same Jesus, She might co-operate with Him in the work of our salvation, and thus become the Mother of Souls. And thi, our Saviour signified when, before expiring, He saw from the Cross His Mother and the disciple Saint John, both standing near Him, and first spoke to Mary – ‘behold Thy son’.. O happy those who live under the protection of a Mother so loving and so powerful!”
Even now, centuries after both Saint Dominic and Saint Alphonsus, the love of the Blessed Virgin for every one of us remains unchanged. She loves us as much now as She did then, and as much as She did at that moment beneath the Cross when Her Son gave every single one of us to Her as Her spiritual children.
And the very powerful means to obtain for us every grace and to secure our salvation is the same now as that given to Saint Dominic – the praying of Her holy Rosary.