His Holiness Pope Pius XII
Encyclical on Reciting the Rosary
September 15, 1951
To Our Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries having Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brethren, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
EVER SINCE WE WERE RAISED, by the design of Divine Providence, to the supreme Chair of Peter, We have never ceased, in the face of approaching evils, to entrust to the most powerful protection of the Mother of God the destiny of the human family, and, to this end, as you know, We have from time to time written letters of exhortation.
2. You know, Venerable Brethren, with what zeal and with what spontaneous and unanimous approval the Christian people everywhere have answered Our invitation. It has been magnificently testified many times by the great demonstration of faith and love towards the august Queen of Heaven, and above all, by that manifestation of universal joy which, last year, Our eyes had the pleasure to behold, when, in St. Peter's Square, surrounded by an immense multitude of the faithful, We solemnly proclaimed the Assumption into Heaven of the Virgin Mary, body and soul.
3. The recollection of these things comes back pleasantly to Us and encourages Us to trust firmly in Divine Mercy. However, at present, We do not lack reasons for profound sorrow which torment and sadden Our paternal heart.
4. You know well, Venerable Brethren, the calamitous conditions of our times. Fraternal harmony among nations, shattered for so long a time, has not yet been re-established everywhere. On the contrary, here and there, we see souls upset by hatred and rivalry, while threats of new bloody conflicts still hover over the peoples. To this, one must add the violent storm of persecution, which in many parts of the world, has been unleashed against the Church, depriving it of its liberty, saddening it very cruelly with calumnies and miseries of all kinds, and making the blood of martyrs flow again and again.
5. To what and to how many snares are the souls of so many of Our sons submitted in those areas to make them reject the Faith of their fathers, and to make them break, most wretchedly, the bond of union which links them to this Apostolic See! Nor can We pass over in silence a new crime to which, with utmost sorrow, We want earnestly to draw not only your attention, but the attention of the clergy, of parents, and even of public authorities. We refer to the iniquitous campaign that the impious lead everywhere to harm the shining souls of children. Not even the age of innocence has been spared, for, alas, there are not lacking those who boldly dare to snatch from the mystical garden of the Church even the most beautiful flowers, which constitute the hope of religion and society. Considering this, one cannot be surprised if peoples groan under the weight of the Divine punishment, and live under the fear of even greater calamities.
6. However, consideration of a situation so pregnant with dangers must not depress your souls, Venerable Brethren. Instead, mindful of that Divine teaching: "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you" (Luke 11, 9), fly with greater confidence to the Mother of God. There, the Christian people have always sought chief refuge in the hour of danger, because "she has been constituted the cause of salvation for the whole human race" (St. Irenaeus).
7. Therefore, we look forward with joyful expectation and revived hope to the coming month of October, during which the faithful are accustomed to flock in larger numbers tO the churches to raise their supplications to Mary by means of the Holy Rosary.
8. O Venerable Brethren, We desire that, this year, this prayer should be offered with such greater fervor of heart as is demanded by the increased urgency of the need. We well know the Rosary's powerful efficacy to obtain the maternal aid of the Virgin. By no means is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid. However, We consider the Holy Rosary the most convenient and most fruitful means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of this practice, heavenly rather than human, and by its nature. What prayers are better adapted and more beautiful than the Lord's prayer and the angelic salutation, which are the flowers with which this mystical crown is formed? With meditation of the Sacred Mysteries added to the vocal prayers, there emerges another very great advantage, so that all, even the most simple and least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to nourish and preserve their own faith.
9. And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed. The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.
10. Let it be your particular care, O Venerable Brethren, that the faithful, on the occasion of the coming month of October, should use this most fruitful form of prayer with the utmost possible zeal, and that it become always more esteemed and more diligently recited.
11. Through your efforts, the Christian people should be led to understand the dignity, the power, and the excellence of the Rosary.
12. But it is above all in the bosom of the family that We desire the custom of the Holy Rosary to be everywhere adopted, religiously preserved, and ever more intensely practiced. In vain is a remedy sought for the wavering fate of civil life, if the family, the principle and foundation of the human community, is not fashioned after the pattern of the Gospel.
13. To undertake such a difficult duty, We affirm that the custom of the family recitation of the Holy Rosary is a most efficacious means. What a sweet sight--most pleasing tO God-- when, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent repetition of praises in honor of the august Queen of Heaven! Then the Rosary, recited in common, assembles before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work. It unites them piously with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace.
14. Then the home of the Christian family, like that of Nazareth, will become an earthly abode of sanctity, and, so tO speak, a sacred temple, where the Holy Rosary will not only be the particular prayer which every day rises to heaven in an odor of sweetness, but will also form the most efficacious school of Christian discipline and Christian virtue. This meditation on the Divine Mysteries of the Redemption will teach the adults to live, admiring daily the shining examples of Jesus and Mary, and to draw from these examples comfort in adversity, striving towards those heavenly treasures "where neither thief draws near, nor moth destroys" (Luke 12, 33). This meditation will bring to the knowledge of the little ones the main truths of the Christian Faith, making love for the Redeemer blossom almost spontaneously in their innocent hearts, while, seeing, their parents kneeling before the majesty of God, they will learn from their very early years how great before the throne of God is the value of prayers said in common.
15. We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times. Not with force, not with arms, not with human power, but with Divine help obtained through the means of this prayer, strong like David with his sling, the Church undaunted shall be able to confront the infernal enemy, repeating to him the words of the young shepherd: "Thou comest to me with a sword, and a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of armies . . . and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear, for this is his battle, and he will deliver you into our hands" (I Kings 17, 45-47)
16. For this reason, We earnestly desire, Venerable Brethren, that all the faithful, following your example and your exhortation should respond solicitously to Our paternal exhortation, uniting their hearts and their voices with the same ardor of charity. If the evils and the assaults of the wicked increase, so likewise must the piety of all good people increase and become ever more vigorous. Let them strive to obtain from our most loving Mother, especially through this form of prayer, that better times may quickly return for the Church and society.
17. May the very powerful Mother of God, moved by the prayers of so many of her sons, obtain from her only Son--let us all beseech her-- that those who have miserably wandered from the path of truth and virtue may, with new fervor, find it again; that hatred and rivalry, which are the sources of discord and every kind of mishap, may be put aside, and that a true, just, and genuine peace may shine again upon individuals, families, peoples, and nations. And, finally, may she obtain that, after the rights of the Church have been secured in accord with justice, its beneficent influence may penetrate without obstacle the hearts of men, the social classes, and the avenues of public life so as to join people among themselves in brotherhood and lead them to that prosperity which regulates, preserves, and coordinates the rights and duties of all without harming anyone and which daily makes for greater and greater mutual friendship and collaboration.
18. Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, while you entwine new flowers of supplication by reciting your Rosary, do not forget those who languish miserably in prison camps, jails, and concentration camps. There are among them, as you know, also Bishops dismissed from their Sees solely for having heroically defended the sacred rights of God and the Church. There are sons, fathers and mothers, wrested from their homes and compelled to lead unhappy lives far away in unknown lands and strange climates.
19. Just as We love them with a special charity and embrace them with the love of a father, so must you, with a brotherly love which the Christian religion nourishes and enkindles, join with Vs before the altar of the Virgin Mother of God and recommend them to her motherly heart. She doubtlessly will, with exquisite sweetness, revive in their hearts the hope of eternal reward and, We firmly believe, will not fail to hasten the end of so much sorrow.
20. We do not doubt that you, O Venerable Brethren, with your usual burning zeal, will bring to the knowledge of your clergy and people these Our paternal exhortations in a way which will appear most appropriate to you.
21. Feeling certain that Our sons throughout the world will respond willingly and generously to this Our invitation, We impart, from the fullness of Our heart and as an evidence of Our favor and an augury of heavenly graces, to each and every one of you, to the flock entrusted to each of you and particularly to those who, especially during the month of October, will devoutly recite the holy Rosary according to Our intentions, Our Apostolic Blessing.
Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, the 15th day of September, the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, in the Year 1951, the 13th of Our pontificate.