This feast day was originally known as the feast of Our Lady of Victory, and this feast day was instituted under this name by Pope St. Pius V in 1573. It was instituted because there was trouble with the Ottoman Turks, who posed a significant threat to Christianity. Pope Pius V was able to form an army of Christians from various countries (the Holy League) who together would fight the Turks.
The day of the Battle of Lepanto came on October 7, 1571. On this same day, it happened that the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary was having a meeting. (Note: You can join the confraternity today!) Aware of the battle on the day, the confraternity offered a rosary for the intention of victory for the Christians. They pleaded for Our Lady’s intercession.
And she delivered.
And people knew it was Our Lady’s intercession that brought this victory. The Turks hadn’t lost a battle like this in some time. It was seen, and still is, as Divine Will.
And so, Pope Pius V dedicated the day to our Blessed Mother, calling it the feast of Our Lady of Victory. In so doing, he made a point that we must offer thanksgiving for all Mary has done in our lives.
We ought to heed his advice!
It was Pope St. Gregory XIII who changed the name of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary, since it was after all the rosary that brought this victory about.
But it’s good, I think, to identify the connection between the rosary and victory. Graces are received when we offer the rosary sincerely. And they bring us victory. As Pope Benedict XV said: “The Rosary is a perfect prayer because of the praises it offers, the lessons it teaches, the graces it obtains, and the virtues it achieves.”
LET US PRAY: O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise: through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.