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OTG: Confraternity of the Holy Rosary

By Thomas Van (bio - articles - email) | Nov 15, 2013

Second only to the Mass as the Catholic prayer par excellence, the Rosary is a staple of the spiritual life of many Catholic families and individuals. For several centuries it has nourished the faith of countless saints, Popes and ordinary Christian men and women. Out of all those who today cherish this timeless prayer, however, relatively few are aware of the spiritual association that is almost as old as the Rosary itself. Indeed, the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary was initially responsible for the widespread promulgation and formalization of the prayer from which it took its name.

The Rosary Confraternity is known for certain to have existed at least as early as the late fifteenth century, when the Rosary was being preached far and wide by the Dominican Blessed Alan de la Roche, but there is a tradition that it was founded, like the Rosary itself, by St. Dominic.

There are many special indulgences and blessings associated with membership in the Confraternity, two of the most attractive being a share, in life and death, in the prayers of all other members around the world, and a share in the prayers and good works of the entire Dominican Order, which, of course, includes some of the Church’s greatest saints, including St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Rose of Lima.

The best part is that anyone who says the Rosary even a few times a week is already fulfilling the primary obligation of membership, which is to pray all fifteen traditional decades of the Rosary (the five Luminous Mysteries are optional) once a week, including in one’s prayer the intentions of fellow members (called Rosarians) throughout the world.  The fifteen decades do not even have to be said all at once; they can be spread out as is convenient, though praying five decades every day is encouraged. The only other requirement is to have one’s name enrolled in the Confraternity register, which costs nothing. For Catholics who already pray the Rosary frequently, it is simply a matter of enrolling and including the Confraternity intentions, and those who would like to start praying the Rosary regularly can consider this a further motivation and an addition to the already great spiritual benefits associated with the prayer.

The Rosary Confraternity has a distinguished history, having been recommended by many saints and Popes including St. John Vianney, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, St. Charles Borromeo, Pope Innocent VIII, and Pope Leo XIII, the last of whom wrote about the Confraternity in two encyclicals, Laetitiae Sanctae and Augustissimae Virginis Mariae. More details about the Confraternity’s history, charism, and privileges may be found here.

The place to enroll in the Confraternity will differ according to which province of the Dominican Order one lives in. Links and addresses for the various Confraternity headquarters in the US and other countries may be found here.

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