On October 16, 2002, the 24th Anniversary of his election as Roman Pontiff, Pope John Paul II signed the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (the Rosary of the Virgin Mary) that presents the Rosary as an outstanding way to contemplate the face and mysteries of Christ. He also proclaimed a “Year of the Rosary”, which extends from October 2002 to October 2003.
For 900 years there have been three series of five mysteries in the Rosary: the Joyous (the infancy of Jesus), the Sorrowful (the Passion of Jesus), and the Glorious (Christ and Heaven). Given that in these 15 mysteries prayed up until now the great events of Christ's public life were not contemplated, in the new apostolic letter the Pontiff adds five mysteries, which he calls the “mysteries of light”: 1) Jesus's Baptism in the Jordan, 2) His self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, 3) His proclamation of the Kingdom of God with the invitation to conversion, 4) His Transfiguration on Mount Thabor, 5) His institution of the Eucharist.
If the Pope insists on the recitation and meditation of the Rosary, it is because he knows the Church and mankind are facing great dangers, like the threat of a world war and the attacks against the family, that can only be stopped “through an intervention from on high.” As the Holy Father wrote:
“The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.”
In Her many Apparitions on earth, like in Lourdes and Fatima, the Virgin Mary always recommended the recitation of the Rosary to obtain peace, and to stop heresies. St. Dominic received the revelation of the Rosary at a time when the Church was in a critical battle against the heresy of Albegensians. It was at Prouille in France in 1208 that Dominic suddenly experienced an Apparition of the Blessed Mother, who said, “Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors. You have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and fifteen Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”
Let us read and meditate carefully on this letter of the Pope about the Rosary which, as John Paul II puts it, is “a treasure to be rediscovered”, that is more urgently needed than ever today. May this call of the Holy Father, for all to take up the Rosary once again, not go unheard!