ROSARY CHAMPIONS. Marian Father Donald Calloway at St. Dominic’s tomb in Bologna, Italy, this summer. Courtesy of Father Calloway
Did you know that Mozart and Haydn prayed the Rosary?
Many Catholics have heard about Our Lady’s aid at the 1571 Battle of Lepanto, but how many know about the first victory attributed to praying the Rosary?
At the Battle of Muret in France in 1213, 1,500 Christians, under the leadership of Count Simon de Montfort (and with St. Dominic praying the Rosary in a nearby church), defeated 30,000 Albegensians intent on wiping out the entire Catholic army. Even more amazing: The unbelievable victory was won in the time it took the saint to pray the Rosary!
It happened on Sept. 12, the day the Church celebrates the Most Holy Name of Mary. The feast was proclaimed for the whole Church in thanksgiving to Our Lady when, on Sept. 12, 1683, Polish King Jan Sobieski achieved victory over the Turks threatening the West in the Battle of Vienna.
These facts — and many more — are related by Father Donald Calloway of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, as he offers readers 26 “champions of the Rosary” in his new book of the same name.
“We need the Rosary today because it has been so proven in the past to overcome darkness,” Father Calloway explained.
“When you study the history of the Rosary, you see this really does have the power to change history. It’s a game changer. A lot of people aren’t aware how often the Rosary has been used by popes and saints to bring about the end of war or free a country from dictatorship. When people read about it, they’ll say, ‘Wow, we need this today.’ Recounting the history will give people the motivation to pick up this spiritual weapon themselves.”
“These great saints and blesseds are my heroes, the ones I want to be like,” added Father Calloway. “Some are not very well known, and I’d like people to know about them. They’re incredible. Their stories are going to be like a springboard where people do their own investigative research. In these saints, they’ll find wonderful new friends.”
Father Calloway, who is also vicar provincial and vocation director for the Marian Fathers, decided to write this book to highlight the power of Marian prayer.
“We need a definitive book on the Rosary that is comprehensive. I wanted one that would be the encyclopedia on the Rosary,” including the praying heroes and basics of praying the Rosary.
“If we can dedicate 20 minutes of our day, even while driving to work, waiting or walking the dog, that 20 minutes of prayer can change our perspective,” he added. “It’s a daily medicine.”
And the Rosary can defeat the devil.
“The Rosary has the power to overcome the enemy because it encapsulates the saving mysteries of the God-and-man, Jesus Christ,” the priest said.
The 2014 experience of Bishop Oliver Doeme of Nigeria illustrates this. The bishop received a vision of Jesus, who handed him a sword that miraculously transformed into a Rosary. Our Lord told him that the rosary-sword would be the weapon to defeat radical Islam.
Bishop Doeme recently said about Father Calloway’s new book: “Champions of the Rosary is a rich treasure for the Church. It reveals that the Rosary is a spiritual sword that continues to be one of the most valuable means available for converting souls.”
The centuries-old “rose” imagery that Father Calloway explains in the new book is also significant. “We’ve been commissioned by the New Testament: ‘All generations will call me blessed.’ One of the ways we can honor Mary as followers of Jesus is to offer her these ‘spiritual roses’” of prayer. “Every mother delights in receiving flowers from her children. It’s a way to say, ‘I love you.’ It’s something special that children do for a mother. If we do that every day, that will make Jesus happy. If you give my mother roses, that will make me very happy, and that would make Jesus very happy because that’s his mother.”
It is also evident in the book that Father Calloway “really loves the miracles associated with the Rosary.” He recounts many: from Our Lady of Las Lajas, a miraculous image on a rock in Colombia, to how Venerable Mary of Agreda appeared to American Indians and gave them rosaries.
The book’s release date is Aug. 8, the feast of St. Dominic. Tradition holds that the Rosary came from the Blessed Mother through St. Dominic. Providentially, this year marks the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominicans.
Among the cardinals, bishops and priests — many Dominicans — praising the book, Dominican Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, assistant secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, calls it “probably the most comprehensive book ever written on the Rosary … a veritable masterpiece of scholarship and piety.”
Dominican Father John Walsh, the prior and promotor of the Rosary Apostolate and Confraternity in Dundalk, Ireland, said Father Calloway “has successfully dipped into this great Dominican tradition; he has expanded and presented it according to his own charism with reference to our modern society, thus bringing this ancient means of attaining salvation and the grace of the life of Christ to a world which is confused and thirsts for truth.”
“Father Calloway, through this fascinating walk through history, reminds us of the power of the Rosary, not as mere devotion, but as evangelization at its greatest,” Father Walsh added.
Father Walsh finds that, as a Dominican, “I have learned more about my own order and its Marian tradition from this book than from researching in our own great libraries. For me, Part III, ‘Praying the Rosary,’ is the icing on the cake.”
“In fact,” he continued, “the Rosary contains a school of prayer, if not a university of all tried prayer patterns. No devotion has stood the test of time as the Rosary [has], simply because it is more than just repetition — it is the Gospel on a string.”
Joseph Pronechen is a
Register staff writer.