Our Lady of the Rosary, Origins

– Answered by Fr. Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: What are the origins of the title "Our Lady of the Rosary"?

A: Regarding the title, Our Lady of the Rosary, it is opportune to remember not only that Marian titles evolve over time, but also that there is no supreme tribunal like the French Academy to regulate the exact wording and content of these titles ... with one exception: Holy Liturgy. It is in and through the liturgy that advocations and titles coined by convention receive their specific wording and content. This can easily be verified in the following retro-active listing of the various descriptions of what basically is one and the same idea: Our Lady honored under the title of, or reference to the rosary.

The 1969 liturgical reform mentions on October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary as mandatory memorial.

Under John XXIII the same feast was mentioned in the Codex Rubricarum (1960) under the title "Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary."

Pius X scheduled this same feast with the same title for October 7 after Clement XI in 1716 had extended it to the whole Church.

Gregory XIII granted in 1573 a "Feast of the Holy Rosary" to all the churches in possession of a Rosary altar. It was to be celebrated on the first Sunday in October.

Pius V begins the whole development by decreeing that it is the anniversary of the battle of Lepanto and the victory over the Turks on October 7, 1571, a feast was to be celebrated under the title "Festum BMV de Victoria" (Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Victory).

Thus the supreme consecration of a Marian title is the liturgy. According to this principle the exact wording of the title, Our Lady of the Rosary, was officially coined in 1969. However, if you are looking for more generic references, meaning not this exact title, then we can tell you that the first mention of a feast of the rosary is dated 1547 (Spain); the title "Queen of the Rosary" appears in the litanies of Loreto in 1883; representations of Our Lady with or within the "rosary" (wreath, garden, beads) go back to the second half of the fifteenth century.

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