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Ordinary Time: October 7th

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

Daily Readings for: October 07, 2011
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: Lord, fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man, so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Old Calendar: Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary; St. Mark, pope and confessor

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted to honor Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Pope St. Pius V and all Christians had prayed the Rosary for victory. The Rosary, or the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the best prayers to Mary, the Mother of God.

Pope Benedict XVI invites all families to pray the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope, the mission of the Church and peace. "It is as if every year Our Lady invited us to rediscover the beauty of this prayer, so simple and profound." The Rosary, a "contemplative and Christocentric prayer, inseparable from the meditation of Sacred Scripture," is "the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, in the following of Jesus, preceded by Mary," said the Pontiff.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is also the feast of St. Mark, who succeeded St. Sylvester and was pope for eight months during Constantine's reign. He zealously continued the great work of Church organization made possible by the period of freedom from persecution due to the Emperor's conversion. He built two churches in Rome, one of which, the titulus Marci, has become the church of St. Mark, and still exists. He died in 336.

Our Lady of the Rosary
This feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the great naval victory over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto on this day in the year 1570, a favor due to the recitation of the Rosary. This victory saved Europe from being overrun by the forces of Islam.

Lepanto, perhaps the most complete victory ever gained over the Ottoman Empire, on October 7, 1571, is commemorated by the invocation "Help of Christians," inserted in the Litany of Loretto. At Belgrade the Turks were defeated on the Feast of Our Lady ad Nives in 1716.   A second victory gained that year on the Octave of the Assumption determined Pope Clement XI to command the Feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. Leo XIII added the invocation "Queen of the most Holy Rosary, pray for us," to the Litany of Loretto. The Feast is in reality a great festival of thanksgiving for the signal and countless benefits bestowed on Christendom through the Rosary of our blessed Queen.

In modern times successive popes have urged the faithful to pray the Rosary. It is a form of contemplative prayer, mental and vocal prayer, which brings down God’s blessing on the Church. It is a biblically inspired prayer which is centered on meditation on the salvific mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, who was so closely associated with her Son in his redeeming activity.

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St. Mark
Prominent among the clergy, Mark, the son of Priscus, was elected to the See of Rome just eighteen days after the death of St. Sylvester. A Roman, Mark was described as a man who was "filled with the love of God, the guardian of justice, a true friend of Christ."

Mark is credited with instituting the ancient custom of a pope being consecrated by the bishop of Ostia. He is also said to have issued an edict whereby the bishops of Ostia were granted the pallium by the pope. The pallium, a circular band of wool, is the symbol of apostolic power worn by the pope; when it was bestowed on an archbishop, it symbolized his participation in that power.

Mark's pontificate, although short, occurred during times of great change. The heretic Arius was dying, nevertheless his followers continued to grow in strength in the East, and as a result such great leaders of the orthodoxy as Athanasius of Alexandria were deposed. Emperor Constantine still reigned, and he was no less generous toward the new pope. He bestowed on Mark two more basilicas: one in the cemetery of Balbina on the Via Ardeatina; and the other, the church of St. Mark, originally named for the pope.

Mark died peacefully on October 7, 336, the same year in which he was elected. He was buried in a place of his own choosing, the cemetery of Balbina.

—Excerpted from The Popes: A Papal History, J.V. Bartlett

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