From 1208 to our own day, this devotion brought victory over darkness.
1Mary reveals the Rosary
St. Dominic de Guzman (1170–1221), the founder of the Dominican Order, is the saint to whom the famous Madonna appeared. in 1208 and gave his devotion to the Holy Rosary, to assist him in the fight against the Albigensian heresy and then caused ruin in the Church. This appearance took place in the south of France, in a small place, outside the way known as Prouilhe in the county of Languedoc. St. Dominic was working unsuccessfully to convert souls back to one true faith, and Our Lady gave him a powerful weapon: the greeting of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary in the Incarnation, and the model in which she must pray .
The Order of Preachers in Malta and St. Pope Pius V.
Around the year 1400, the Virgin Mary had appeared as a hunter in a cave in Victoria.
In about 1450, three Dominican monks from the Province of Sicily established the Order of Preachers in Malta, and in the same year, they asked to be given this cave; was given shortly afterwards. In a short time, the cave became a chapel, and then a church, and then a priority.
Later, Dominicans in Malta were central to the establishment of the new city, Valletta. Indeed, Valletta and the Dominican community began to take root over the years following the victory of the Blessed Virgin in 1565 (the Great Siege – six years before the Battle of Lepanto) when , without delay, Grand Master de Valette thought of building a fortified city to protect Malta from another Ottoman attack. Due to the lack of necessary funds, the main benefactor was the Dominican Pope St. Pius V, who gave the sum of 30,000 silver florins and sent to his engineer Francesco Laparelli, to on 28 March , 1566, the first stone of the city was laid.
Courtesy of Manuel Farrugia *
For two full years the Dominicans were crossing from their convent in Vittoriosa to the new city to assist the 4,000 workers who were building the ramparts and other fortifications. It was for this reason that Fr Damiano Taliana, Prior of the Convent of the Annunciation and Provincial Vicar of the Dominican convents in Malta, asked to be given a place to build a church and a convent. Grand Master Pietro del Monte accepted his request and, in 1571, a Dominican community settled permanently and built a new church dedicated to St. Mary of Porto Salvo (of Safe Haven) and St. Dominic for devotion. of sailors. It was declared ‘the main parish and the matrix of the whole new city’ by Pope Pius V through his Apostolic Bull. Ex Debito Pastoralis on 2 July 1571.
After the earthquake of 1693, the original church had to be demolished, due to extensive structural damage. The new church was rebuilt between 1802 and 1815 and was consecrated on 15 May 1815. On 25 May 1816, it was elevated to the dignity of a Minor Basilica. The Dedication took place on 15 October 1889.
2The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary established
Follow the Battle of Lepanto: Another Marian Victory
Only a few months after his Apostolic Bull, specifically on October 7, 1571, the Pope instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. On this day the fleet of the Holy League (a joint force formed by the Papal States, the Knights of Malta, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Sardinia, the Kingdom of Spain, the Roman Empire Saint, Venice, Genoa and Savoy) fought and won an intense battle against the fleet of the Ottoman Empire – the Battle of Lepanto. The League was much more numerical. Pope St. Pius V ordered the churches of Rome to be opened for prayer day and night, and urged the faithful throughout Europe to petition for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the recitation of the Rosary. When word reached Pope Pius about the victory of the Holy League, he attributed it to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Therefore, he added a new feast day for the Roman Liturgical Calendar: October 7 was the feast of the Holy Rosary.
In fact, Pope St. Pius V is called the “Pope of the Holy Rosary”, as he was especially known for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and for being a great promoter of the Holy Rosary. Indeed, in 1569, he had already issued a Papal Bull, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices, in which he ensured the uniformity of the Holy Rosary.
Among the first Confraternities of the Holy Rosary
The documents show that in 1571, almost at the same time as the institution of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary by St. Pope Pius V, the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary was founded in the Dominican church of the Annunciation in Vittoriosa, making it the first official Confraternity of the Holy Rosary to be founded in the Maltese Islands, and probably one of the first in the whole World! Indeed, this year the Dominicans of Vittoriosa brought to Malta, from the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, a relic of St. Pope Pius V to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the founding of the Confraternity of Vittoriosa. In addition, it shows the intimate ties that Malta has with the Holy Rosary, St. Pius and the Dominicans.
Also, the General Chapter of the Dominican Order, held in the city of Barcelona in 1574, under the master of Seraphinus Cavalli (Master of the Order from 1571-1578), issued a directive to the churches administered from the Dominicans do everything possible to establish Confraternities (best known as Fraternities) of Our Lady of the Rosary. In Valletta, the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of the Rosary Founded was founded in 1575. This Archconfraternity was associated with the church of St. Mary of Porto Salvo and the Dominican Priority, where the chapel of the fraternity is located.
Courtesy of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary in Vittoriosa
3The Luminous Mysteries, twice
St. George Preca and the Holy Rosary
St. George Preca, the first canonized Maltese saint, was born in Valletta and baptized in the church of St. Mary of Porto Salvo and St. Dominic. In 1999, Pope St. John Paul II declared him Venerable and on May 9, 2001, His Holiness beatified him, also referring to him as our islands ” “The second father in the faith,” the first is St. Paul himself!
Pope Benedict XVI canonized Fr. George on June 3, 2007, referring to him as “Friend of Jesus.”
St. George had unwavering devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and did all he could to make more people come to love the Holy Rosary. He repeated with passion that, “Every day, the Virgin Mary waits for midnight to recite the Rosary.”
In 1957, Fr. George wrote the fifth “Mysteries of Light.” What aroused him was John 8:12 “The light of the world.” Fr. Preca had concluded that the Rosary had a missing link – the public ministry of the Lord. Fr. Preca was also heard to say that he loved to ask these ‘new’ mysteries and contemplate the Lord, who is “the Light of the world.”
On February 16, 2002, on the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, Pope St. John Paul II published an Apostolic Letter entitled Rosarium Virginis Mariae (RVM), in which he inaugurated the Year of the Rosary (October 2002 to October 2003). In this document, His Holiness also introduced the five new Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. This addition to the Holy Rosary, which has not changed for more than 400 years, has attracted great interest and intense debate. The media and journalists from all over the world, Catholics and non-Catholics, focused on these Mysteries, and took the opportunity to emphasize that the Pope may have been inspired by the work of a Maltese priest – which he himself had declared Blessed a few months earlier, in 2001 – Blessed George Preca.
It is not known whether the mysteries of St. John Paul II were in fact inspired by the work of St. George, but the striking similarity between these two sets of Mysteries, conceived 45 years apart, arouses significant curiosity. . Also interesting are the almost identical titles. If this inspiration occurred, various suggestions were made on how His Holiness could have found the work of St. George.
One thing is certain – God works in mysterious ways – and nothing is impossible for God. Perhaps the two saints were divinely and separately inspired to help people contemplate the public ministry of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. The Mysteries of Light of Dun Ġorġ became “public property” after two publications, one in 1973 and the other in 1987.
Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Malta
The following are the Mysteries of Light by Fr. Preca, and those from the Pope:
Work of St. George Preca:
- After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, he was taken to the wilderness.
- Jesus reveals himself as a true God by word and miracles.
- Jesus teaches the Beatitudes on the mountain.
- Jesus is transfigured on the mountain.
- Jesus takes his last supper with the Apostles.
Work of St. John Paul II:
- Jesus is baptized in the Jordan;
- Jesus reveals himself through the miracle of wine at the wedding in Cana;
- Jesus announces the Kingdom of God;
- Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor;
- Jesus institutes the Eucharist.
It cannot be a coincidence that the Maltese Saint George was baptized in the Basilica of Saint Mary of Port Salvo and Saint Dominic, the Marian Sanctuary so famous for spreading the Holy Rosary in our Islands. Later, the Maltese Saint undertook the mission of his life to spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Rosary. He was also the first preacher to propose his version of the Mysteries of Light, later introduced by another modern saint, Pope John Paul II.
Attard A. The Brotherhood of the Rosary in the Church of the Annunciation: The First in These Islands (The Brotherhood of the Rosary in the Church of the Annunciation: The First in these Islands). The Convent of the Annunciation – Vittoriosa. [accessed on 1st October 2021]
Blessed George Preca – Diocesan Priest – Founder of Society of Christian Doctrine, MUSEUMThe Vatican. [accessed in November 2020]
Church of Our Lady of the Fair Ports. National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. Superintendence of Cultural Heritage
The history of the Dominican order in Valletta. Times of Malta. 27th July, 2018. [accessed on 1st October 2021]
Formosa J. Probable Origin of the Mysteries of Light. Catholic Planet. [accessed in November 2020]
Putzolu JC Popes and the Rosary. Vatican News. [accessed on 1st October 2021]