Ave Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii
From the 'Vitae Fratrum', the 'Lives of the Brethren' of the Order of Preachers, a 13th century redaction of early Dominican legends and spirituality:
"The Virgin Mother of all love both cherishes with a very special affection and watches over this Order which she has founded, while the devil - who is jealous of everything that is good, and who hesitated not to tempt the Lord of all - assailed our brethren in Bologna and Paris... Having recourse to their singular protectress, Mary most holy, they made it a rule to have a solemn procession, after Compline, while singing the Salve Regina with its proper prayer. At once the phantoms were put to flight... Blessed Jordan of blessed memory, the second Master General of the Order, wrote in his history of the foundation of the Order how a holy and trustworthy man told him that while the Salve was being sung he often saw the blessed Virgin Mary cast herself at her Son's feet and pray for the preservation of the Order."
It follows then that today's Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary honours she who is the Protectress of the Order, particularly as the Rosary devotion has long been associated with and even attributed to the Order. Fr Timothy Radclilffe, OP, former Master of the Order has preached excellently on the Dominican character of this devotion and I could do no better than to recommend his homily to you today.
On this day, there is an early Dominican custom of blessing roses after the conventual Mass which are then distributed to the faithful as marks of our Blessed Mother's favour and blessing. Happily, our Priory in Cambridge maintains this custom, as well as the Salve Procession mentioned above. More about the custom of blessed roses on this festal day may be seen and read on the MonialesOP blog.
Finally, may I end by offering this verse from the Office Hymn, 'Te gestientem gaudiis', which may be found in full here:
"Venite, gentes, carpite
ex his rosas mysteriis,
et pulchri amoris inclitae
Matri coronas nectite."
'O come, ye nations, roses bring,
culled from these mysteries divine,
and for the Mother of your King
with loving hands your chaplets twine.'
May Our Lady of the Rosary ever lead us to her Son and into a deeper love for Him as we contemplate the Truth of His life through her eyes. Amen.
The photo above of Our Lady giving the Rosary to Ss Dominic and Catherine is from the Antipolo Shrine in the Philippines.