Question: What is the story behind the rosary?
Answer: The rosary is a sacred and popular Catholic devotion, but its origins are mysterious. Prayer beads to facilitate meditation began in the early ages of the Church. In the early medieval period, bead strings were used to count Hail Marys or Our Fathers. A tradition has developed that the rosary in its current form was given to St. Dominic by the Blessed Mother. However, the earliest biographies of the saint do not include this story. In the Middle Ages, the prayers were grouped into 50 Hail Marys with verses from Psalms and vignettes from the lives of Jesus and Mary. By the 16th century, the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries were established.
The rosary rose to prominence in the late 1500s. The Turkish Empire was spreading across eastern Europe, and pirates were raiding Christian ships. The Christian nations of Europe rallied for a great battle at sea. Pope St. Pius V urged all Christians to pray the rosary for victory. While vastly outnumbered, the Christian fleet was victorious at the Battle of Lepanto. The pope established October 7th as the feast of the Holy Rosary. Later, all of October would come to be known as the Month of the Rosary.