Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ireland and the Rosary

With the victory of Cromwell’s armies, Ireland entered a period of harsh persecutions during which it became more and more difficult for Catholic priests to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful. From that time dates the very special importance the Irish attribute to the Rosary, among the devotions in honor of the Blessed Virgin.

When a priest couldn’t be there to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice for the faithful, the assembly would pray the Rosary as a form of public prayer. It is not an exaggeration to affirm that, for more than three hundred years, the Rosary has been the most characteristic form of devotion of the Irish people. In each Catholic home, the recitation of the Rosary has become a daily, scrupulously observed ritual.

If sailors were setting sail to cross the seas and expose their lives, a pubic Rosary was offered before the ship hoisted the anchor. Fishermen used to recite it before lifting their nets. It is the traditional prayer at Catholic funerals; the one also that families recite when they gather at the bedside of one of their beloved who is dying. During the 19th century, when emigration dispersed Irish Catholics throughout the world in faraway countries often deprived of Catholic priests, the Rosary was the most efficient support for the poor exiles. (A. Gwynn, SJ 'Our Lady of Ireland')

credit: after 'A Moment with Mary'
picture represents colonial style painting of 'Our Lady of the Rosary and Saints', Brooklyn Museum, NJ