Our Lady, the Dominicans, and the Rosary Confraternity

October 7, 2014

Dominicans claim a special love for Our Lady and the Holy Rosary. According to a longstanding and well-known tradition, Saint Dominic first received the Rosary from Our Lady in the 13th century. Since then the Dominican friars have zealously promoted this devotion to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother, for the salvation of souls. The history of both the Rosary and what is known as the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary are bound up with the early history of the Order of Preachers. The Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary (known also as the Rosary Altar Society in the United States) is an international association of the faithful that exists “to praise and honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and to secure her patronage by the recitation of the Rosary for the mutual spiritual benefit of all the members throughout the world.” Each week, countless thousands of members pray the Holy Rosary and include each other’s intentions in their prayers. If you pray the Rosary regularly, consider joining the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. Membership in the Rosary Confraternity is open to all the Catholic lay faithful as well as to priests, deacons, and consecrated religious. The first Rosary Confraternity was established in the 1470s through the zealous preaching of the Dominican friar Alan de la Roche, O.P. It was partly due to the spread of the Rosary Confraternity that devotion to Our Lady’s Rosary flourished so widely and a uniform way of reciting the Rosary developed. From the beginning, Rosary Confraternities were erected under the direction of the Dominican friars and the formal chartering of Rosary Confraternities eventually became an apostolic privilege reserved to the Dominican Order. Throughout the world, many Catholic parishes and shrines have established local chapters of the Rosary Confraternity—or “Rosary Altar Societies”—with the help of the Dominican Friars. In the United States, Rosary Altar Societies can be found in numerous parishes and often play an important role in promoting devotion to Our Lady and in helping to organize parish activities. Consider joining the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, and consider establishing a Rosary Altar Society in your parish. If your parish Rosary society has lost touch with the Rosary Confraternity, you may reestablish contact by using the form available here. — Fr. Cassian Derbes, O.P. Fr. Cassian was ordained to the priesthood in May 2014 and was appointed Promoter for the Holy Rosary for the Province of St. Joseph in July 2014.

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