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The Triumph of the Holy Rosary - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:20 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

By Ryan Foley '21

Pope Leo XIII said that “the rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life”. Popes throughout the centuries and the greatest of saints have spoken of the marvels of this prayer in bringing souls to Christ through His Mother. Leo XIII promoted October as the month of the rosary; as October is the prime month for farmers’ harvests, so too may the rosary be the way in which souls are harvested.

In attestation to the power of the holy rosary, God has shown us great miracles throughout the ages. Many have heard of the tremendous miracles attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession at Fatima, Lourdes, and Lepanto (but if you have not, look them up!). Such events to this day astound historians and scientists, leaving no explanation except for the miraculous. There are also many lesser-known miracles that are just as astounding. Here, I will tell of two.


The Battle of Muret

The Albigensians were a neo-Manichean sect of heretics that were prominent in southern France during the 12th and 13th centuries. They were a violent opposition that denied the Incarnation of Christ, and their ideas were growing rapidly.

A man named Dominic Guzman of Spain (St. Dominic) was a great opponent to the Albigensians and would preach from village to village about the errors of their heresy, while simultaneously proclaiming the truth of incarnational Christianity. His efforts, however, were a failure. Despite the fact that he was well-educated and a great orator, he could do nothing to rid France of the Albigensian poison. He needed help.

In 1208, when Dominic went into a forest in France, that help he needed came: not from Earth, but from Heaven. After three days of prayer and fasting, tradition holds that Our Blessed Mother appeared to Dominic and gave him the prayer which we now call the rosary, instructing him to use it as a preaching tool to win souls back to Christ and his Church. From that point on, as he resumed his campaign - but now with this new method of prayer and preaching - he found miraculous success and brought back countless souls from the heresy of Albigensianism. Such apologetic victories began to reunite France in orthodoxy, but the Catholics were triumphant on the battlefield as well.

In 1213, Pope Innocent III sought to put an end to Albigensianism, so he called for a Crusader force to go fight in southern France in the city of Muret. Only 1,500 men led by Simon de Montfort showed up for the battle. The Albigensian forces, however, had over 30,000 men ready to fight, and all were ambitious to wipe out the Catholics. Such a lopsided matchup stirred great confidence in the Albigensians. As they had 20 soldiers for every one Catholic soldier, an absolute rout was inevitable. Providence, however, had other plans.

Cemented with the conviction that they were invincible, the Albigensians drank and relaxed the night before the battle. All of the Catholics, on the other hand, spent the night praying the rosary and the morning celebrating Holy Mass. As the Catholic militia knew well, they needed divine help if they were to come out of this battle alive.

When the time to fight arrived, Dominic retreated into a church. He spent his time in the church praying the rosary with the intention that the Catholic forces might be victorious against the Albigensians who had caused so much havoc among Christians in France. Miraculously, by the time he finished praying his rosary, Simon de Montfort and the Catholic troops had already obliterated the Albigensians. Confused and hungover from the night before, the 30,000 Albigensians barely made a dent against the 1,500 Catholics. In fact, the Catholic force killed a staggering 20,000 Albigensians while sparing only 8 of their own men. This was truly one of the greatest military upsets in world history.  

Following the Battle, as Fr. Donald Calloway writes in Champions of the Rosary, “the territorial expansion of the Albigensian heresy ended” and “every Catholic in the area attributed the victory to the rosary.”


Our Lady of Las Lajas

Just as the Battle of Muret astounds historians, so too does a little-known event, which occurred in Colombia some 500 years later, leave even contemporary scientists and geologists at a loss for words.

       In 1754 a woman named Maria Mueses de Quinones was walking with her deaf and mute daughter, Rosa, when a great storm came down upon them. Underneath cliffs in a grotto at the Guaitara Canyon, they

sought shelter until the storm passed. Maria had heard rumors that this area of the Canyon, Las Lajas, was haunted. Distressed, she began invoking the Virgin of the Rosary. At that moment she felt someone tapping her on the back. Terrified, she fled back into the storm and walked back home with Rosa.

Several days later they were walking along the same path when Maria sat down near the grotto to gather her breath, as the area was rocky and steep. Suddenly, her deaf and previously mute daughter spoke out saying that she saw a beautiful woman who held a little child in her hand and had “two little mestizos” next to her. Maria was astonished that her daughter miraculously spoke for the first time, but she did not see the woman.

Several days later, Rosa disappeared from home. Maria looked all over town, but Rosa was nowhere to be found. She then went to check the grotto at Las Lajas to see if Rosa had gone to look for the woman. Sure enough, it was here that Maria found Rosa playing with a little boy whose mother stood before them. Knowing that it was Christ and His mother who were in her presence, Maria fell to her knees in awe. After this, Maria returned to the grotto frequently with Rosa to pray for the Blessed Virgin’s intercession.

Several months later, a great miracle occurred that spread the news of this apparition throughout the lands. Out of the blue, Rosa became very sick and died. Everyone in the village had heard of her tragic death. Her mother was devastated, and at a loss of what to do, she panicked and brought her dead child to the grotto to pray that Our Lady might ask her Son to bring little Rosa back to life. As an answer to her prayers, the child was miraculously returned to life. The people of the town had heard of her resurrection at Las Lajas and went to explore this area where such a great miracle had occurred. What they found imprinted upon the cliffs, however, provoked even more attention than the resurrection of Rosa.

Upon the rocks was a magnificent image of the Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus in one hand and, in the other, a rosary that she was handing to St. Dominic. The Child Jesus in this image is handing a friar’s cord to St. Francis of Assisi at His side. Maria had not seen this painting before, nor had anyone else. No one knew who made this spectacular piece of art.

Over time, when no one was looking, some people began to chip away at this image on the rock; it could have been worth a grand sum of money. Even after they chipped away over three feet into the rock, the image remained. Geologists and civil authorities concluded that the image was not a painting at all. Rather, the image was a part of the rock itself! It penetrates several feet through, as the colors of the image are quite literally the colors of the rock itself. The only artificial parts of the image are the crowns upon the heads of Christ and Mary, which were added in later years.

The image still exists today in near-perfect clarity at the shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas in southern Colombia. It has been a site of devotion that brought forth many pilgrims, each desiring to see this miraculous image. In 1951, the site achieved Vatican approval as a miraculous site worthy of pilgrimage.

These two miracles attest to the power of the holy rosary. In fact, Our Lady, in her 15 promises to those who pray the rosary, said to St. Dominic and Bl. Alan de la Roche that “you shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary”. Yet these are just two of the thousands of miracles attributed to the rosary. We truly do not understand what great power every rosary prayed has in our world. We may not feel it and we may not see it, but the holy rosary delights our Lady and terrifies demons beyond our imagination. As St. Padre Pio said, “the rosary is a weapon in our hands with which we can overcome the devil’s attacks.” Now, when evil is present everywhere, even in our own Church, let us turn to the Blessed Mother and her rosary so that she may lead us all to her Son.