Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with Thee, Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus;
Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Remembering our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.
R. Lord hear our pray.
O gentle Protectress of Christians, do not despise the prayerful voices of sinners; but, in your goodness, hasten to assist us in our prayers, especially for peace in our world, and for the end of all hatred, bitterness and retaliation.
R. Hasten the coming of Your kingdom of Lord.
O Holy Mother the champion of the poor, we seek your aid in the alleviation of all of poverty and injustices in our world.
R. Reward O Lord all those who work to alleviate poverty and injustices.
O sweetest Queen of heaven, you with all the angels and saints in heaven do continually give homage to your Son, help us to offer our heartfelt thanks for all the blessings you give us, especially for this meal we share and for one another and our families.
R. Give us thankful hearts dear Lord.
It is truly right to call you blessed, O Theotokos: you are ever-blessed the Mother of our God. Higher in honour than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, you gave birth to God the Word in virginity. You are truly Mother of God: you do we exalt.
Pray for us O Holy Mother of God;
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
On October 7, the first Sunday of October in the year 1571, Don Juan of Austria gained his famous naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto. In thanksgiving for this event, which he attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin through the recitation of the Holy Rosary, St. Pius V instituted an annual feast under the title of Our Lady of Victory. His immediate successor, Gregory XIII, changed the title to that of the Rosary, and granted its Office to all churches in which there was an altar dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary.
The word "Rosary" refers not only to five decades of beads but also to a rose garden and in time they became entwined. The rose very early became associated with Mary and the Incarnation. It symbolised Mary's perpetual virginity and her unstained life. Dante referred to her as "the Rose wherein the Divine Words was made incarnate". For him there was no more beautiful flower than a rose. Mary was indeed the Mystical Rose.
Gardens have always been part of our Christian heritage. Apart from the garden of Eden there are many references to gardens in Scripture. Some of the most important events of the New Testament take place in gardens, for example the garden of Gethsemane, and Joseph of Arimithaea's garden
The Song of Solomon speaks of the garden as the symbol of the Beloved of Christ. The poet wrote of the promise of the new Eve and the Christ Child who would lead man back to Paradise, and in the allusive language of the Old Testament writers, the new Eve was compared to a garden enclosing heaven and earth.
When St Anthony the Great took to the desert in the third century he cultivated and pruned a little garden, not only to provide herbs for himself but also for the nourishment of his visitors after their arduous journey. On one occasion an angel appeared to him and proceeded to plait a mat with the palm leaves, and then paused to pray before resuming work with the words: 'Do thus, and thou shalt be saved.' In this way the link between work and prayer was emphasized, and so was forged the connection between gardens and prayer that led eventually to the prayer of the rosary itself.
So deeply did the early hermits understand that the loving care and labour of tending a garden was a direct parallel to prayer that another desert monk, St Phocan, remains to this day the patron saint of gardeners.
St Phocan dwelt outside the gate of Sinope and lived by cultivating a garden. Under Diocletian, orders were sent out for his arrest and soldiers were despatched to find him. Having lost their way, the men stopped unwittingly at the home of the saint, who, moved by pity, took them in and cared for them. Under the warmth of his kindness, they explained their task, whereupon the saint promised to reward their search the following day. After his guests had retired to bed, St Phocan went into the garden and in prayer he prepared his grave. In the morning he led the soldiers into the garden explaining his identity and there, amongst his flowers, he died.
From these early beginnings, the importance of gardening in Christian monasticism was firmly established, and further endorsed by St Benedict in his Rule, which laid down strict instruction on the form and cultivation of the monastery garden. There is in existence a plan of the ideal Benedictine monastery that was drawn up for the Abbot of St Gall in Switzerland in the middle of the ninth century. The plan shows three gardens, one of medicinal herbs which are listed in great detail, the kitchen garden and thirdly the orchard with fruit trees planted in straight lines so that the graves of the monks could be laid between them. In later centuries roses were planted in the monks' cemetery in anticipation of Paradise and of the Blessed Virgin who awaited them in heaven.
Bishop Etholwold of Winchester (908-984) built an abbey at Thorne later described by William of Malmesbury as being set in a paradise garden in which were grown mainly roses and lilies, for the decoration of the church. So altars, shrines and statues of the saints and even the candles came to be encircled with flowers. Sometimes the symbolism was not restricted to the flower of the rose alone but the whole bush or tree was used to illustrate the undoubted labour required to achieve sanctity.
Fra Angelico's masterpiece, Noli me tangere, portrays the risen Christ in an enclosed garden of rare beauty, in which delicate flowers and leaves increase the notion of Paradise, underlining with gentle simplicity the implication of the Resurrection. In this picture, as in many others, the Redeemer is portrayed with spade in hand, to show that His work was complete.
Over the centuries it was the rose garden that became the most beautiful, and the rose became associated with Mary, Mother of God. The 'Rose of the Virgin' and the 'Rose Mariae' were the names given to the rose of Jericho, a small plant native to the deserts of Arabia, and there is a legend that this rose sprang from the earth beneath the feet of the Holy Family as they fled into Egypt.
There are biblical clues to the choice of the rose itself as an emblem of Our Lady. 'Like a rose planted on the rivers I have borne fruit' are found in Ecclesiasticus, and from the Song of Songs is the reference, 'I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.'
In the Virgin of the Rose Garden by Stefano da Zevio, Mary is seated with the Holy Child on her lap beside a sparkling fountain. The Garden is enclosed by an exotic trellis of roses with birds and angels perched precariously amongst the leaves, and in the foreground St Catherine is weaving a garland of roses.
'Let us crown ourselves with rose-buds' says the book of Wisdom, and in the Middle Ages garlands became a sign of heavenly joy. For the garland or circle was not only decorative but a constant reminder of the 'enclosed garden' foreshadowing the circle of beads which would gather men's thoughts to the mystery of the Incarnation.
In England, Whit Sunday was often known as Rose Sunday, and with garlands made from the briar rose of the hedgerows, known by children as 'Sweet Maria', processions wound their way down the lanes of every village in the month of May, which is traditionally the month of Mary.
Centuries later, when the word 'garland' or 'chaplet' became used as the name of our Lady's beads, some of the Church authorities were to object strongly on the grounds that it was worldly, insisting that the title 'Our Lady's Psalter' be used. But the garland of roses had become a sign of the circle of beads enclosing the mystery of the Incarnation, and even today the title given to rosary beads in German is rosenkranz, crown of roses.
The word 'rosary' could perhaps have remained as the title given to garlands or chaplets of roses, replete with heavenly connections, used either as coronets or to decorate altars and candles, always in honour of the Blessed Virgin. However, things did not rest there. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries collections of prayers in honour of Mary were being written under such titles as 'The Garden of Roses'.
The theme of the rose tree is used in the Secret of the Rosary written in the seventeenth century by St Louis de Montfort. The book opens with the author's dedication offered in the form of roses, thus a white rose for priests, a red rose for sinners and a mystical rose tree for devout souls. This last dedication he elaborates thus:
Its green leaves are the joyful mysteries, the thorns the sorrowful ones, and the flowers the glorious mysteries . . eventually this little seed will grow so great that the birds of heaven will dwell in it and make their nests there. Its shade will shelter them from the scorching heat of the sun and its great height will keep them safe from the wild beasts on the ground.
He concludes the dedications with a rosebud for children. The body of the book is divided into fifty small sections reflecting the number of Aves in the Psalter, each one entitled numerically as a rose, and it remains the most authoritative work on the subject of the rosary.
Gradually, the roses had become prayers whose tally was kept by means of beads, and the prayers are there for the sake of the mysteries of the New Testament, which make up the meditations of the rosary.