Why is October the Month of the Holy Rosary?
October is a special month for many reasons, but perhaps one of the most important for Catholics is that it’s the month of the Holy Rosary. The dedication of the month became common in the Church thanks to Pope Leo XIII, an enthusiastic promoter of the prayer, in 1884. In the span of only five years Pope Leo wrote eleven encyclicals on the Rosary alone. That year, he published Superiore Anno, an encyclical focusing solely on the importance and recitation of the Rosary:
“Last year, as each of you is aware, we decreed by an Encyclical letter that, to win the help of Heaven for the Church in her trials, the great Mother of God should be honored by the means of the most holy Rosary during the whole month of October. In this we followed both our own impulse and the example of our predecessors who, in times of difficulty, were wont to have recourse with increased fervor to the Blessed Virgin and to seek her aid with special prayers …”.
It should be stated here also that the last officially recognized apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary was in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal. During this apparition, the Blessed Virgin identified herself to three shepherd children stating that she was “the Lady of the Rosary” and continued with a command: “Pray the Rosary every day.” In fact, she commanded this in almost every one of her Church approved apparitions. Years later she said something equally as profound to Blessed Alan de la Roche: “After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.” Wow!
Praying the Rosary is a big deal. It’s a gift from Heaven to aid us on high with graces and protection, but it’s also an exhortation from Our Lady. It is our duty then to honor her request, especially considering that she knows what is best for us. She, like Our Lord, has our very best interest at heart.
So then, Why is October the Month of the Holy Rosary?
To be more specific, the Church celebrates the feast day of Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary on October 7th each year. This feast day was originally established by Pope Saint Pius V on the anniversary of the victory at Lepanto on October 7th, 1571. History records the naval victory being gained due to the Virgin Mary whose intercession was entreated through the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
Subsequently, the Church proceeded to dedicate the entire month of October annually to the Holy Rosary. This had the cumulative effect of inspiring individuals, families, and communities to pray the Holy Rosary on a daily basis for peace on earth — just as Our Lady had asked. To this end, Pope Leo XII had written: “Not only do we earnestly exhort all Christians to give themselves to the recital of the pious devotion of the Rosary publicly, or privately in their own house and family, and that unceasingly, but we also desire that the whole of the month of October (in this year) should be consecrated to the Holy Queen of the Rosary” (On Devotion of the Rosary, 1883).
Moreover, St. Josemaria Escriva, a Spanish Roman priest of the twentieth century and now canonized Saint, is quoted as saying: “Because Mary is our mother, devotion to her teaches us to be authentic sons [and daughters]: to love truly, without limit; to be simple, without the complications which come from selfishly thinking only about ourselves; to be happy, knowing that nothing can destroy our hope … The beginning of the way, at the end of which you will find yourself completely carried away by love for Jesus, is a trusting love for Mary” (Christ is Passing By, 143).
Therefore, as we now enter further into the month of the Holy Rosary let us do our part and pray the Rosary every day … as Our Lady has asked. Through it, she is eager to assist and intercede on our behalf.
6 Ways to Pray the Holy Rosary with Devotion
1.) Pray the rosary daily privately and/or with friends and family.
“Develop a lively devotion for Our Mother. She knows how to respond in a most sensitive way to the presents we give her. What is more, if you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, Our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son’s path” —St. Escriva.
2.) Pray the rosary during the day. Try not to postpone it until the end of the day or bedtime.
“You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have presence of God” —St. Escriva.
3.) If possible use a book like, “Rosary Warfare,” “Holy Rosary,” or a trusted audio recording of the Holy Rosary to help aid you and enter more deeply into each mystery.
“Have you… ever contemplated these mysteries? … Come with me and — this is the essence of what I have to confide — we will live the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Each day we will render them a new service. We will hear their family conversations. We will see the Messiah grow up. We will admire His thirty years of hidden life … We will be present at His Passion and Death …We will be awed by the Glory of His Resurrection … In a word: we will contemplate [and be] carried away with Love, each and every instant of Christ Jesus” —St. Escriva.
4.) When praying the family rosary, especially with young children, use a booklet that shows an image for each mystery of the rosary.
5.) When you see an image of Our Lady at home, on the street or in Church, direct a glance at it and send her an affectionate interior prayer or greeting.
This was a practice St. Josemaria started from a young age and recommended to others throughout his entire life.
6.) Make a pilgrimage to a nearby church or shrine dedicated to Mother Mary.
St. Josemaria believed that a “local pilgrimage” with a small group of friends or family is a good way to honor the Blessed Virgin and to help us become more devoted to her. Traditionally, a “local pilgrimage” includes, if possible, walking to and from the shrine or walking part of the way to and from the shrine; reciting five mysteries of the rosary on the way; praying another five mysteries of the rosary at the shrine; and praying another five mysteries of the rosary on the way back.
Happy month of October, friends! With you in prayer.