Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

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Today, the feast of the Holy Rosary, brings to mind the assistance that, according to pious legend, the Virgin Mary gave to the Christian armies during the battle of Lepanto (1571). In fact, the prayer of the Rosary is often associated with battles and the need for strength. Most of the battles we fight are spiritual: against selfishness, lukewarmness, and other vices. St. Josemaria knew very well the strength Our Lady grants her children through the prayer of the Rosary, and wanted to promote this ancient devotion in a graphic way through his book Holy Rosary. 

In 1931, when religious persecution was already underway in Spain, and in particular, in Madrid, young Father Josemaria made his way through the streets praying the Rosary and greeting Mary in images throughout the city. The Murillo tile copy image above is still found on an apartment building near the Santa Isabel convent, where St. Josemaria served as chaplain in the early 1930s. He rarely failed to greet this image as he prepared to enter Santa Isabel’s, and if he did, he would retrace his steps to say some short prayers to her. Surprisingly, this image was not destroyed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), probably because it was too high off the street for most people to notice or care.

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Santa Isabel’s convent was the site of St. Josemaria writing the small book, Holy Rosary. It was written in the sacristy of the church one day in December, 1931.  This beautiful chapel here pictured inspired him to offer meditations on each of the mysteries of the Rosary. It starts out, “The beginning of the way, at the end of which you will find yourself completely carried away by love for Jesus, is a trusting love for Mary.” Having recently traced the steps of St. Josemaria on our recent pilgrimage to Madrid left me with a deeper urgency to begin this way again, and bring the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary more graphically into my life and the world.

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