Feast Day: August 8
In 1208, Pope Innocent III began a seven year crusade against the Albigensians in response to the heretical movement’s murder of a papal legate. The Albigensians, who had grown very popular by this time, had a dualistic worldview wherein two, equal forces (God, the force of good, and Satan, the force of evil) battled for dominance. Moreover, they held the Gnostic belief that the physical world itself was evil because it had been created by the evil Satan.
Saint Dominic (1170-1221), who had already been preaching against the heresy, followed the crusading army in order to continue to preach to the heretics. However, he had very little success in converting the Albigensians.
Frustrated, Saint Dominic entered in the chapel of Notre Dame at Prouille and began to prayer. He soon found himself complaining to Mary, the Mother of God. However, Our Lady responded to his complaints by appearing to him with a rosary in her hand. She said, “Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, he began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the angelic salutation (or what we now know as the Hail Mary prayer). Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 angelic salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”
As the future founder of the Dominicans began praying the rosary, the conversions of the Albigensians increased precipitously. In fact, Saint Dominic’s devotion to the rosary led to over 100,000 conversions
Devotion to the rosary continued to spread across Christendom well past Saint Dominic’s death. Our Blessed Lady had made known to Saint Dominic in the rosary a kind of preaching then unknown. She promised him that the rosary would be one of the most powerful antidotes to heresy and sin, as well as an aid in future difficulties.