Every October, we honor Our Lady of the Rosary, celebrating her Feast on October 7. This celebration was first instituted by Saint Pius V in 1573, following the extraordinary victory of the Christian naval fleet over the Turks at Lepanto. Tradition holds that the victory was achieved almost effortlessly in spite of the fact that the opposing fleet was nearly three times their size – a miracle which the faithful attribute to the soldiers’ fervent prayer of the Rosary. Now, nearly 450 years later, we continue the tradition of the Rosary, entrusting ourselves to the loving care and protection of the Blessed Mother.
In praying the Rosary, we reflect upon the mysteries of our salvation through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. At the Basilica, we honor Mary as Our Lady of the Rosary in a variety of settings – the Rosary Walk and Garden, the Our Lady of Fatima Oratory, the Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, and the Our Lady of Pompeii Chapel.
Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel
The Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel is located on the Upper Level of the Basilica, memorializing the popular tradition that the Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Dominic during the 13th century and bestowed on him the devotion of the Rosary. The chapel itself is a gift of the Dominican Order.
Meditating on the role of the Blessed Mother under her title Our Lady of the Rosary, let us pray:
O God whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has won for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we pray, that we who meditate on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Lady of Fatima Oratory
The Our Lady of Fatima Oratory is named for the town of Fatima, Portugal, where Mary appeared in a series of visions to three shepherd children, imparting prophetic insight and asking them to pray the Rosary.
The oratory includes this prayer to Our Lady of Fatima. Let us request the supplication of Our Lady, who offers us continual guidance:
Most Holy Virgin who hast deigned to come to Fatima, to reveal the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, that meditating on the Mysteries of our Redemption recalled therein, we may obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, and the favors we ask now for the greater glory of God; for your own honor, and for the good of all souls. Amen
Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, pray for us!
Dedicated in 2008, this chapel includes the five mosaics of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary and a Crucifix blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. The connection of the Rosary with Pompeii dates back to the late 1800s, when Mary appeared to an Italian named Bartolo Longo and instructed him to promulgate the Rosary. Bartolo led an effort to build a Marian Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary in Campania – a town not far from the ruins of Pompeii. The great tragedy of that site reminds us of the faithful protection of the Blessed Mother to those who seek her help in times of trouble, as this prayer in the chapel reads:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession through the Rosary was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Mother of Mercy, Virgin of virgins, powerful queen of Victories. To you I come, before you I stand: I implore compassion, I seek grace. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but through your most holy Rosary, graciously hear and answer me.
Butler’s Lives of the Saints (ed. by Bernard Bangley)
Cowan’s The Way of Saints
Light a Candle at the Basilica
Is there a special intention you would like to entrust to Our Lady? We invite you to light a candle for the intentions that are weighing urgently upon your heart. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Upper Church and lower Crypt level of the National Shrine, representing the faith and prayers of the supplicants.