The Miraculous 54-Day Rosary Novena
“Children, great tribulations are getting near so that you prepare spiritually; do not let go of the Holy Rosary, because it is the greatest protection that Heaven has given you.” – St. Pio of Pietrelcina
“Grab your rosaries! We are going into battle!”
This cry is not likely what a unit commander would shout to soldiers hunkered down in trenches anticipating enemy confrontation. But it has been and still is the cry of the most astute warriors actively engaged in battles in the spiritual realm where all battles of every kind are actually rooted.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).
In the year 1221, tradition holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Dominic who was combating a popular heresy in France called Albigensian. As stated in this article by Edward Sri in Franciscan Spirit, “Mary gave him the rosary, told him to teach people this devotion, and promised that his apostolic efforts would be blessed with much success if he did.”
Throughout the last 800 years, history proved Our Lady true to Her promise extended to all devoted to the Most Holy Rosary. One of the most notable responses was in the mid-16th century. Muslim Turks intent on expanding their empire were brutal. They inflicted ritual cruelties on the defeated populations, set fire to churches, beheaded the older women, and marched away many of its women and young boys and girls for shipment to Eastern harems.
When it was learned that an enormous Muslim fleet was headed to the Gulf of Lepanto, the much smaller Christian fleet advanced. For months Pope Pius V had urged Catholics to say the daily rosary on behalf of the morale and good fortune of the Christian forces and, above all, for a successful outcome to the highly risky preemptive strike against the Turkish fleets.
The night before the battle, the young 22-year old admiral of the Christian Holy League fleet, Don Juan of Austria and many of his men spent much of the night in prayer. The fate of their civilization depended on their good fortune the next day.
Heaven responded. On October 7, 1571, in what has been called the The Greatest Sea Battle in History, the Christian fleet was remarkably victorious over the Turkish Ottoman Empire. In thanksgiving, Pope Pius V declared October 7th the feast of Mary, Queen of Victory.
In an encyclical in 1883, Pope Leo XIII, who was also particularly devoted to Our Lady of the Rosary, points us today in the direction we should fly. He wrote:
“It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary. This devotion, so great and so confident, to the august Queen of Heaven, has never shone forth with such brilliance as when the militant Church of God has seemed to be endangered by the violence of heresy … or by an intolerable moral corruption, or by the attacks of powerful enemies.”
Did Pope Leo say, “intolerable moral corruption?”, “heresy?”, “powerful enemies?” Isn’t that what we are facing today? Oh august Queen of Heaven shine forth!
Grab your rosaries! We are going into battle for 54-Days!
The Origins of the 54 – Day Novena
In Italy on March 3, 1884 (the same year Pope Leo XIII penned the prayer to St. Michael) young Fortuna Agrelli experienced an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fortuna was suffering from 3 incurable diseases. Doctors had classified her case as hopeless. Upon seeing Our Lady, Fortuna exclaimed “Queen of the Holy Rosary, be gracious to me, restore me to health! I have already prayed to Thee in a novena, O Mary, but have not yet experienced Thy aid. I am so anxious to be cured!”
“Child,” responded the Blessed Virgin, “you have invoked Me by various titles and have always obtained favors from Me. Now, since you have called Me by that title so pleasing to Me, ‘Queen of the Most Holy Rosary’, I can no longer refuse the favor you petition; for this name is most precious and dear to Me. Make three novenas, and you shall obtain all.”
On another occasion, Our Lady appeared to the young girl and said, “Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary, and three novenas in thanksgiving.”
Obeying Our Lady’s instructions, the young girl was healed and restored to perfect health and thus began the tradition of the Miraculous 54-Day Rosary Novena. Since this novena was dictated long before the Luminous mysteries were added it consists only of the original three sets of mysteries; joyful, sorrowful, glorious. Three novenas are offered over 27 days in petition for a particular grace or blessing, followed by three novenas over 27 days in thanksgiving for prayers answered; hence, the 54-day time frame.
Our Lady of Victory, Queen of Heaven and of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.