Prayers for October

The Month of the Holy Rosary

As fall descends on the Northern Hemisphere, the Catholic liturgical year draws to a close. In the traditional calendar, many of the feasts between mid-September and the First Sunday in Advent make reference to conflicts between Christianity and Islam, and great victories in battles in which the Church—and, more broadly, Christendom—was threatened. The memory of these events turns our thoughts to the end times, when the Church will undergo trials and tribulations before the return of Christ the King.

It may not be obvious how dedicating the month of October to the Holy Rosary fits into this pattern. But the rosary—and, more specifically, Our Lady of the Rosary—is credited with victory in a number of the battles that those feasts celebrate. Chief among these is the Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571), in which a Christian fleet defeated a superior Ottoman Muslim fleet and stopped the westward expansion of Islam in the Mediterranean.

In honor of the victory, Pope Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, which is still celebrated today as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7). And, in 1883, when Pope Leo XIII officially dedicated the month of October to the Holy Rosary, he made reference to the battle and the feast.

The best way to celebrate the Month of the Holy Rosary is, of course, to pray the rosary daily; but we can also add some of the other prayers below to our daily prayers this month.

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Worshipers pray the rosary at a Catholic church in Baghdad, Iraq. (Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)
Worshipers pray the rosary at a service for Pope John Paul II on April 7, 2005, at a Catholic church in Baghdad, Iraq. Pope John Paul II died at his residence in the Vatican on April 2, aged 84 years old. (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images). (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

The use of beads or knotted ropes to count large numbers of prayers comes from the earliest days of Christianity, but the rosary as we know it today emerged in the second thousand years of Church history. The full rosary consists of 150 Hail Marys, divided into three sets of 50, which are further divided into five sets of 10 (a decade).

Traditionally, the rosary is divided into three sets of mysteries: Joyful (recited on Monday and Thursday, and Sunday from Advent until Lent); Sorrowful (Tuesday and Friday, and Sunday during Lent); and Glorious (Wednesday and Saturday, and Sunday from Easter until Advent). Pope John Paul II introduced the optional Luminous Mysteries in 2002; at the time, he recommended praying the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday, and the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday year-round, leaving Thursday open for meditation on the Luminous Mysteries.

Learn how to pray the rosary and find all the necessary prayers.

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Invocation to the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

A statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, Italy.
A statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, Italy. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!

An Explanation of the Invocation to the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

This short invocation to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, is an appropriate prayer for the Month of the Holy Rosary, as well as for reciting at the end of the rosary.

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St. Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane, Queensland
Richard Cummins / Getty Images
In this prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary, we ask the Virgin Mary to help us to cultivate a habit of interior prayer through the daily recitation of the rosary. This is the object of all of our prayers: to arrive at the point where we can "pray without ceasing," as Saint Paul tells us to do.

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Detail of Coronation of the Virgin (c. 1311), from the Workshop of Duccio di Buoninsegna.
Detail of Coronation of the Virgin (c. 1311), from the Workshop of Duccio di Buoninsegna. Gold and tempera on panel, 51.5 x 32 cm. Budapest, Szepmuveszeti Muzeum. (Photo © flickr user carulmare; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

This theologically rich prayer to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, calls to mind our Blessed Mother's protection of the Church—as, for example, at the Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571), when the Christian fleet defeated the Ottoman Muslims through the intercession of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

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Red Rosary Wrapped Around Hands

This prayer for the Crusade of the Family Rosary was written by Francis Cardinal Spellman, the cardinal archbishop of the archdiocese of New York in the mid-20th century. The Family Rosary Crusade was originally an organization, founded by Fr. Patrick Peyton, dedicated to convincing families to recite the rosary together daily.

Today, we can pray this prayer to spread the practice of the daily recitation of the rosary. In that vein, it is especially appropriate to add this prayer to our daily prayers for the Month of the Holy Rosary.