Countries freed or saved from Communist occupation or dictatorships,
How the Rosary Changed Modern History
"If I had an army to say the Rosary," Pope Pius IX once said, "I could conquer the world." And he said this because the Rosary, next to the Mass, is the most powerful weapon in the Church’s arsenal.
Now, most people are aware that the Catholic navy defeated a large Muslim fleet, against overwhelming odds, at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. And most people are aware that this victory was won because Pope Pius V organised a Rosary procession to pray for the success of the battle. However, most people are unaware of the many amazing victories won through the power of the Rosary in the 20th Century.
In this centenary month of the great Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, therefore, it is fitting to study some of these miraculous and divine interventions because it will help strengthen our faith in Mary’s intercession, and deepen our trust in the power of her Rosary.
Hiroshima and Austria
One of the most amazing miracles in history occurred at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, in Hiroshima, Japan.
At that time the Americans dropped the first atomic bomb, and it landed just eight city blocks from the Jesuit church of Our Lady of the Assumption. A half million people were killed instantly when the bomb hit, and homes and buildings for miles around were instantly levelled. Yet the Jesuit church and rectory as well as the four Jesuit priests inside it were undamaged and unhurt. Why? Because the priests prayed the Rosary daily. [See Oct. 2005 CO for a detailed scientific account of this miraculous survival.]
As great as it was, however, this miracle, was just the beginning of the many wonders that Mary would work through her Rosary in the second half of the twentieth century.
First, there was Austria. After WWII the communists of Russia took over Austria. To shake off this yoke, a Franciscan priest, Fr. Peter Pavlicek, organised a Rosary crusade in 1948. It began on September 12, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Fr. Peter asked for a tithe of Rosaries. He asked that ten percent of all the Austrians pledge to say the Rosary daily until the Soviets left the country. The people of Austria responded generously. They prayed for seven years, and then on May 13, 1955, the Soviets mysteriously just packed up and peacefully left: the first and only time they freely abandoned an occupied country.
A-bomb obliterated : 13 October 1960
The Soviets, however, did not give up on their plans to take over western countries. Five years later, in October 1960, Nikita Khrushchev visited the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and boasted that he would "bury" us — annihilate the United States and the Western world! To emphasise his point, he took off his shoe and pounded it on top of the table, as the horrified world assembly looked on.
This was no idle boast. Khrushchev knew his scientists had been working on a nuclear missile and had completed their work and planned to present it to Khrushchev in November 1960, the 43rd anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The West seemed in danger of a Soviet takeover. But by that time, Pope John XXIII had already opened and read the third Fatima secret confided to Sister Lucia. As a consequence, while not proceeding to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as requested, he at least authorised the Bishop of Leiria (Fatima) to write to all the bishops of the world, inviting them to join in the prayer and penance of Fatima pilgrims in Fatima on the night of October 12-13, 1960: to pray the Rosary for Russia's conversion, and world peace.
On the night of 12-13 October, about a million pilgrims responded to the request and spent the night outdoors in a bone-chilling rain before the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary. At the same time, over 300 dioceses throughout the world joined with them. Pope John XXIII sent a special blessing to all taking part in this unprecedented night of reparation.
These Rosaries and sacrifices of millions obtained another astonishing intervention. For, that very same night, the Soviets’ new long-range A-bomb missile unexpectedly blew up during a test, killing hundreds of top military leaders and scientists! Right after his shoe-pounding UN episode, Khrushchev was forced to pull up stakes and return in haste to Moscow, cancelling all subsequent engagements. Here is what happened:
Marshall Nedelin, one of Russia's leading authorities on nuclear energy, and several government officials were present for the final testing of the missile that was going to be presented to Khrushchev. When countdown was completed, the missile, for some reason, did not leave the launch pad. After 15 or 20 minutes, Nedelin and all the others came out of the shelter. When they did, the missile exploded killing over 300 people — top military leaders and scientists.
This disaster set back Russia's nuclear program 20 years, preventing all-out atomic warfare and the "burying" of the U.S. and the West. And it happened on the night when the whole Catholic world was on its knees before the Blessed Sacrament, gathered at the feet of our Rosary Queen in Fatima. Our Lady does not want nuclear war.
Brazil, Portugal and the Philippines
Shortly after this happened, Dona Amelia Basto organised a Rosary campaign in Brazil to save the country from a communist takeover. She managed to recruit 600,000 women in 1962 to say the Rosary in Sao Paulo for peace. Through this demonstration of faith and prayer, the country was spared a communist dictatorship.
Something similar happened in Portugal in 1975. The communist government in that country was peacefully overthrown after a national Rosary crusade for peace was launched.
While even more famously, Cardinal Jaime Sin and Cory Aquino led millions of Philippinos in the 1986 "rosary revolution" that miraculously ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the country after years of martial law and political attacks, without a drop of blood being shed.
Kneeling as they prayed the rosary, the people blocked the tanks sent to crush the revolt. Unprecedented scenes saw soldiers, generals, and entire camps defecting to the side of the people.
Marcos fled the country, and on February 25, the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, Maria Corazon Aquino was sworn in as the seventh President of the Republic of the Philippines.
(It is worth noting, too, that in the years that immediately preceded the toppling of Marcos, the Philippine bishops had proclaimed a Marian Year from December 1984 to September 1985. Also in 1985, five million Philippinos responded to the call of the bishops for a nationwide campaign of Conversion, Life Offering, and Reparation, praying the Rosary daily, and pleading for deliverance in our hour of trial.)
Severomorsk: May 1984
All these wonders were surpassed by events that followed the March 25, 1984 call by Pope John Paul II for a Rosary crusade, in view of the grave danger to world peace at that time. In response to his request, a major "Rosaries for peace" crusade was launched by the Blue Army and other Marian organisations. A magnificent response to the papal plea culminated on May 13, 1984, when one of the largest crowds ever to gather at the Fatima shrine prayed the Rosary for peace.
On that very day, as the Catholic multitude said the Rosary in Fatima, an explosion at the Severomorsk Naval Base destroyed two-thirds of all the missiles stockpiled for the Soviets’ Northern Fleet. The blast also destroyed the workshops needed to maintain the missiles, killing hundreds of scientists and technicians. Western military experts labelled it the worst naval disaster the Soviet Navy had suffered since WWII.
In addition, the Soviet Defence Minister, the mastermind behind Soviet invasion plans, suddenly and mysteriously fell seriously ill, and then died in December of 1984. Four years later, during the night of May 12, 1988, as thousands of pilgrims once more prayed the Rosary in Fatima, another mysterious explosion wrecked the only factory that made the rocket motors for the Soviets’ deadly SS 24 long-range missiles, which carry ten nuclear bombs each.
Recitation of the Rosary: sine qua non of world peace
All these events are understandable and explicable only in light of the Fatima apparitions of the Blessed Mother. For when Mary first appeared at the Cova da Iria on May 13, 1917, she told the children to "Pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war." She also repeated at each of the other five apparitions: "Pray the Rosary every day." Moreover, the Blessed Mother expressly asked for prayers for the conversion of Russia, prophesying that this nation would endanger the peace and security of the entire world if her words were ignored. In the third apparition on July 13, 1917, she famously warned:
If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated.
In making this prophecy, Mary made the Rosary the indispensable and necessary condition for world peace. In other words, there will be no peace in the world — there can be no 'world peace' — until the Rosary is prayed on a wide scale.
At the same time, the Rosary is not only the best protection for countries and societies, but also the ultimate protection for individual persons. As St. Louis de Montfort states in his classic book, The Secret of the Rosary:
If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory. For even if you are now on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil…sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul. If – you say the Rosary devoutly every day of your life.
There are several reasons why this is so:
First, the Rosary leads us to meditate on all the major mysteries in the life of Christ and therefore to adore and thank God for his love and mercy, which is the principal duty of all the faithful.
Second, this prayer takes place through the mediation of Mary, which is most pleasing to God, since she is our spiritual Mother.
Third, the Rosary puts us into contact with the holy angels. For St. Alphonsus Liguori says that at each Hail Mary the angels are attracted to us, while the devils are repelled. And Pope Leo XIII states that "each time we meditate on the mysteries of our salvation in the Rosary we in some way imitate the sacred duties once committed to the angels. For they revealed each of the mysteries in its due time; they played a great part in them with expressions of joy, of sorrow, and of triumphant exultation." What then, he asks, "could be greater and more delightful than to meditate and pray with the angels by saying the Rosary?"