Did you know that the second part of the Hail Mary wasn’t introduced until the 14th century? Did you know that one of the most popular Rosary shrines was created by a former satanist who converted? Did you know that an image of Mary handing the Rosary to Saint Dominic miraculously appeared in a cave in Colombia in 1754? Did you know that in 1964, 2 million people gathered to pray the Rosary in Brazil?
How do I know all these little facts? Simple. I just finished reading Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon by Donald H. Calloway, MIC. I discovered it after stumbling across an excerpt of it on Catholic Exchange. I’m always on the lookout for books about the Rosary as they fuel my passion for both praying it and writing about it. Bottom line, there is something of value in this book for everyone whether you’re a devoted follower of the Rosary or a skeptic.
The books itself is divided into three parts. The first and largest part is the history of the Rosary. Each chapter takes you through a century and highlights the places, people, and events that shaped the Rosary. It can be a rather dense history lesson at times but stick with it because there are many gems to be found.
The second part takes you through the “Champions of the Rosary.” Each chapter highlights someone’s biography, Marian connection, Rosary connection, and quotations about the Rosary. While not as dense as the first part, again there are great pearls of wisdom and stories of dedication. Just thumbing through a few of the quotations in Rosary Gems sections can provide a little motivation for praying the Rosary if you find yourself tired or not in the mood.
The last part of the book explores the technical details of praying the Rosary. And while useful, the descriptions and meditations are rather shallow. This is not a book of meditation ideas. There are other books that provide much better Rosary meditation ideas (like these!).
I was captivated by the history and evolution of the Rosary explained in this book. I cannot believe just how passionately people have prayed and endorsed this prayer. The Rosary is so valuable that people have laid down their lives for it rather than give it up. The miracles associated with it are amazing — battles won, regions transformed, and people converted. It makes any of my excuses for not finding 20 minutes in a day to pray it seem so petty and selfish. If you’re looking for motivation to pray the Rosary, whether it be getting started or just a boost of energy, please read this book.
While I’ve been praying the Rosary regularly for years, I do have a new appreciation for it thanks to this book. I’m now trying to pray it more reverently — quietly, slowly, and kneeling when I can. I’m really trying to appreciate just how special the Rosary is. For example, the other day I was almost gitty over the idea of how proud and happy my Mother Mary must have felt that I was praying Her Rosary. Knowing that our prayers are important to Her is something I’ve always known intellectually, but only recently have felt it on a deeper level.
I always knew that praying the Rosary is good for you. But I was more like a child eating his vegetables because someone told me I should. But Champions of the Rosary explains why the Rosary is such an important prayer and why everyone must make a habit of praying it. It will help you internalize and understand its power. Give it a read. Hopefully, it will transform the way you approach the Rosary as it did for me.