ROME, OCT. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- When did the rosary come into being?
St. Dominic Guzman (1170-1221), founder of the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, is generally regarded as the creator of the rosary. But that attribution is not historically accurate, says Father Ennio Staid, a Dominican theologian and an expert on the subject.
Mary’s Psalter predated the Spanish saint, though he and the Dominicans became its principal promoters.
According to sources made available to ZENIT by Father Staid, the key moments of the rosary’s development took place between the 12th and 15th centuries.
At the start of the 12th century the praying of the Hail Mary spread in the West. The angel’s annunciation to Mary, mentioned in the Gospel, was, until the seventh century, the antiphon of the Offertory of the 4th Sunday of Advent, a Sunday with a particularly Marian significance.
But the only part of the Hail Mary that was recited was the one recalling this passage and Elizabeth’s blessing. The name of Jesus and the second part — “Holy Mary” — were introduced around 1483.
Initially, the recitation of the greeting to Mary did not imply the contemplation of the mysteries of Christ’s life.
Between 1410 and 1439 Dominic of Prussia, a Cologne Carthusian, proposed to the faithful a form of the Marian Psalter in which there were only 50 Hail Marys, each followed by a verbal reference to a Gospel passage.
The Carthusian’s idea was a great success and psalters of this type multiplied in the 15th century. The final references to the Gospel were extremely numerous, at one point reaching some 300, according to the regions and favorite devotions.
Dominican Alain de la Roche (1428-1478) did a great work in promoting the Marian Psalter, which at this time began to be called “Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” thanks to his preaching and to the Marian confraternities he founded.
The rosary was simplified in 1521 by Dominican Alberto da Castello, who chose 15 evangelical passages for meditation, which included the short prayer at the end of the Hail Marys.
Pope St. Pius V (1566-1572) instituted the essence of the rosary’s present configuration with the bull “Consueverunt Romani Pontifices.”
On Wednesday, John Paul II signed an apostolic letter on the rosary.