Pope Proclaims "Year of the Rosary" and Publishes Apostolic Letter

On 24th Anniversary of His Election

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II marked the 24th anniversary of his pontificate with the proclamation of the Year of the Rosary, and the publication of an apostolic letter on the Marian prayer.

The Pope signed the document in the open air, during today’s weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square, which gathered some 17,000 pilgrims, including 4,000 Poles.

John Paul II used the occasion to reiterate his determination to continue as Pope for as long as God wills, and he entrusted to Mary’s hands “the life of the Church and that of sorely tried humanity.”

“To her I also entrust my future. I place everything in her hands, so that with a Mother’s love, she will present it to her Son,” he added.

In his new apostolic letter, entitled “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary), the Pope presents the Marian prayer — if prayed “with devotion and not mechanically” — as a “meditation on the mysteries of the life and work of Christ.”

“By repeating the invocation of the Hail Mary, we can reflect profoundly on the essential events of the mission of the Son of God on earth, which have been transmitted to us by the Gospel and by Tradition,” the Pope explained.

And, given that in the 15 mysteries of the rosary prayed up until now, the great events of Christ’s public life were not contemplated, in the new apostolic letter the Pontiff adds five mysteries, which he calls the “mysteries of light.”

They include moments in Christ’s public life, beginning with his baptism in the Jordan and ending with the passion.

“Is there, perhaps, a better instrument than the prayer of the rosary for the demanding but extraordinarily rich endeavor to contemplate the face of Christ together with Mary? To do so, however, we must rediscover the mystical profundity enclosed in the simplicity of this prayer, so dear to popular tradition,” the Pope continued.

In the second place, and by way of reinforcing his proposal, the Pope proclaimed the “Year of the Rosary,” which extends from this month to October 2003.

The Holy Father explained that the proclamation celebrates three significant moments: the start of his 25th year in the papacy; the 120th anniversary of Leo XIII’s encyclical “Supremi Apostolatus Officio,” which initiated a series of documents on the rosary; and the appendix to the Holy Year 2000.

In “the history of the Great Jubilees the good custom existed that, after the Jubilee Year dedicated to Christ and to the work of the Redemption, one was proclaimed in honor of Mary, as if imploring her help for the fruition of the graces received,” the Pope explained.

In bidding the pilgrims farewell, he said that the “Year of the Holy Rosary, which we will live together, will certainly produce beneficial fruits in the hearts of all, it will renew and intensify the action of grace of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and will become a source of peace for the world.”

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