The Rosary—as spiritual weapon against evil—has a very long and precious history. In twelfth and thirteenth century France, a group of heretics known as the Albigensians was destroying the minds of the Catholic laity with its erroneous ideas. The Albigensians’ teachings encouraged suicide, many times by self-induced starvation, because they believed that the body was an intrinsic evil and that the soul must be liberated from matter at all costs. However, as history often shows, Providence raises up great Saints in times of dire crises. This time it was no different. Saint Dominic, born of noble lineage, received the Rosary from Our Lady in the year 1214. Our Lady gave Saint Dominic the Rosary as a weapon to combat the awful Albigensian heresy.
The Rosary as we know it today took some time to develop. After Saint Dominic died in the year 1221, the Rosary was almost immediately forgotten. However, in 1464 Our Lord, Our Lady, and Saint Dominic appeared to Blessed Alan de la Roche, a Dominican friar, after which he preached the Rosary until his death in 1475. This tremendous apostolate by Blessed Alan de la Roche, through the direct intercession of Our Lady, made the Rosary a widespread devotion. The fifteen mysteries as we know them came about through the many confraternities founded after Blessed Alan de la Roche’s preaching, and were formalized with Pope Saint Pius V’s encyclical, Consueverunt.