OCTOBER 5th, 2014
The Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
800th Anniversary of the Holy Rosary
Tradition holds that the Holy Rosary was given to Saint Dominic in 1214 by the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year, 2014, marks the 800th anniversary of the Holy Rosary. When the Albigensian heresy was devastating the country of Toulouse, Saint Dominic earnestly besought the help of Our Lady and was instructed by her, so tradition asserts, to preach the Rosary among the people as anantidote to heresy and sin. From that time forward this manner of prayer was “most wonderfully published abroad and developed [promulgari augerique cœpit] by Saint Dominic whom different Supreme Pontiffs have in various past ages of their apostolic letters declared to be the institutor and author of the same devotion.”
The feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was originally called Our Lady of Victory, for on the 7th of October 1571, the naval forces of a Holy League, consisting of several maritime Catholic countries, met the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto. The Ottoman Turks were on the warpath in eastern Europe, and their ships had the run of the Mediterranean.
Pope Pius V organized the league to challenge Ottoman naval supremacy. The Holy League had a total of 208 ships to the Ottoman 251, and they were vastly outnumbered in terms of manpower, which on the Ottoman side included Christian slaves as oarsmen. The Spanish, who provided the bulk of the Christian naval forces, put the fleet under the command of the son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the famous Don Juan de Austria.
As the two fleets sought each other in the eastern Mediterranean, the Pope called for all Christian Europe to pray the Rosary for victory against the Ottomans.
The Battle of Lepanto was a decisive victory for the Holy League. Some ten thousand Christian slaves were freed, and Ottoman naval power was broken forever. It was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman military advance in Europe. The Church, and indeed the victorious fleet commanders themselves, attributed the victory at Lepanto to God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Feast of Our Lady of Victory was established for this day in grateful thanksgiving. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII altered the title of the feast to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. It was Pope Clement XI who extended the feast to the whole of the Latin Rite by inserting it into the General Roman Calendar in 1716.
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish in Tacoma was founded in 1891 by the city’s community of German-speaking Catholics. They raised the money to purchase the land and build the first wooden church. At the request of those first pioneers, Bishop Aegidius Junger of Nisqually of- fered the parish to Abbot Bernard Locnikar, O.S.B. of Saint John’s Abbey of Collegeville, Min-
nesota, who came out personally to inspect the new church. On July 16, 1891 Fr. William Eversmann, O.S.B. arrived in Tacoma as Holy Rosary’s first pastor. The school was started in 1892. By 1912, growth in the parish required the construction of a new, larger church building. The old wooden church was closed, and liturgies were held for nine years in the school auditorium.
The present church building was completed in 1920 and dedicated the following year. It dominates the Tacoma skyline and is a landmark structure on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places. The tower rises to more than 200 feet high; it was originally topped by a gold leaf and glass cross. The cross, lost in the 1965 earthquake, was replaced by a large aluminum one manufactured by students at the Tacoma Vocational and Technical Institute in 1966.2
Message From Father Maurer