There have been a number of historical incidents in which praying the Rosary has played an important part in upholding the Church and the Faith, including the Battle of Lepanto, in 1571, when at the instigation of Pope Pius V, a rosary campaign was instrumental in preventing the invasion of Europe by an Ottoman Empire fleet whose object was to subjugate Europe to Islam. The resounding victory which ensued against overwhelming odds led to the Church establishing the “Feast of the Holy Rosary,” which is celebrated on 7 October every year.
Another victory of the Rosary was obtained in 1955, when the occupying Soviet Army voluntarily left Austria. Fr Petrus Pavilicek, a Franciscan, had organised a Rosary Crusade from 1946 onwards, as a result of which in due course ten percent of the population of 7 million, that is 700,000 people, were praying five decades of the Rosary daily for peace in the country. He also organised candlelit processions through the streets of Vienna with a pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady from Fatima, that were led by the Federal Chancellor.
On 13 May 1955, the 38th anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima in May 1917, it was announced from Moscow that the Soviets were willing to withdraw from Austria and sign a peace treaty. This was the only time in the history of the Soviet Union that the Red Army voluntarily withdrew from a country it had occupied, without firing a shot. In contrast, the attempted uprisings in Hungary, in 1956, and Czechoslovakia, in 1968, were brutally put down by Soviet tanks.
Shortly before the last Soviet troops left the territory of Austria, on 26th October 1955 there was another huge torchlight procession in thanksgiving in Vienna. In his address to the vast crowd, Raab, the Federal Chancellor, asked Austria’s faithful Catholics to remain true to their faith and unswerving in their prayers to the Queen of heaven.
“But for today”, he concluded, “we want to send up a joyful prayer to heaven and end it with the words: ‘We are free ! Mary, we thank you !’” (He taught millions to pray – Fr Peter Pavlicek, OFM, by Hilda Firtel, Rosary Crusade for the Peace of the World, Vienna).
These incidents—and there are not a few others besides that can be cited, such as the extraordinary liberation and completely unexpected resurrection of the Church in Portugal following the Miracle of the Sun on 13th October 1917, when Our Lady proved to the vast crowd of 70,000 awestruck spectators that she had indeed been appearing to the three shepherd children—show the power of the daily recitation of the Rosary to change history, especially when enough people pray it fervently for the same intention.
All that is required is for enough Catholics in England and Wales to commit themselves to pray the Rosary daily for the re-evangelisation of the Church and the conversion of the country. Surely it is not too much to ask something which requires barely 20 minutes of one’s time in a day. If that objective can be attained, then in the light of the experience of the Rosary as recorded in history, we can confidently expect, through the intercession of the holy Mother of God, that the Church will overcome the difficulties it is currently facing and experience a period of renewed growth.
The outcome rests in our hands, and whether enough people are willing to comply with her requests at Fatima for daily recitation of the Rosary.