From its beginning the Order of Preachers has shown special honor and devotion to Mary, Mother of God. The Rosary, which places before us the chief mysteries of the Life, Passion and Resurrection of our Savior, has been one of the chief ways in which the Order has expressed this devotion. Our brother, Alan de La Roche (1428-1478) helped to define the structure of the Rosary and zealously promoted its recitation. At Douai in 1470 he established the first Rosary Confraternity. In 1476 our brother Jacob Sprenger established at Cologne the first such Confraternity which had papal approval. Pope Saint Pius V gave the Rosary definitive form in is bull Consueverunt Romani Pontificis (September 17, 1569).
Today’s feast commemorates the great naval victory won by Christian forces over the Turks at Lepanto on Sunday, October 7, 1571. Pope Saint Pius V decreed that a feast in honor of Our Lady of Victories be celebrated each year on that day. His successor, Gregory XIII, transferred the feast to the first Sunday of October under the new title of the Most Holy Rosary, since it was precisely through the invocation of Our Lady of the Rosary that the victory was thought to have been gained. In the reform of the liturgy the feast was returned to its original day.