Moderns Don’t Believe Mary Gave St Dominic the Rosary

On this Feast of St Dominic, I have to relay some bad news.

Some people question whether Our Blessed Mother gave the Rosary to St Dominic,  as is traditionally believed. In fact, some modern day theologians are attempting to re-interpret and reconstruct the story of St Dominic and the Rosary.

In fact, a certain priest had this to say about the origin of the Rosary:

“The origins of the rosary are “sketchy” at best. The use of “prayer beads” and the repeated recitation of prayers to aid in meditation stem from the earliest days of the Church and has roots in pre-Christian times. Evidence exists from the Middle Ages that strings of beads were used to count Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Actually, these strings of beads became known as “Paternosters,” the Latin for “Our Father.”


But, wait for it.

Even some DOMINICANS no longer believe the traditional story.

Taylor Marshall, a wonderful  theologian of our time, says in his article, “Did Mary Give the Rosary to St Dominic“?

“These moderns observe that the practice of praying Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s on beads is a practice that predates Saint Dominic, and that this “Rosary” gradually evolved. This fact, they claim, further substantiates the conclusion that the Holy Rosary is not a revealed gift given directly to Dominic by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself.   While it is certain that many (East and West) prayed on beads prior to Saint Dominic, the original claim is that the Holy Rosary as a collection of 150 Hail Mary’s with the 15 Mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious) was literally and historically given to Saint Dominic by the Immaculate Mother herself.”

Why do you suppose people no longer believe?  I offer some reasons:

  • They are afraid of being ridiculed for these pious beliefs.  
  • They feel they are too educated to believe such a story.
  • They are ready for the Catholic Church to “get with the times.”

If we are too educated to believe the story of how St Dominic received the Rosary, then maybe we are too educated to imagine that 2,000 years ago, the Son of God entered human flesh, was killed, rose again and ascended into heaven.

We might be too educated to believe that the great mystics, like St Catherine of Siena and St Teresa of Avila had true experiences. Maybe it was their imaginations.

Where does it end?


According to tradition, our Mother Mary appeared to St Dominic de Guzman, the founder of the Order of Preachers, also  known as the Dominicans.

At this point in his life, he was getting discouraged that he was not doing enough to convert the Albigenses. 

He complained to our Lady and she appeared to him and offered him a solution to his problem.

“Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine Grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”

There is also a great account in St Louis de Montfort’s Secret of the Rosary

“Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?”

“Oh, my Lady,” answered Saint Dominic, “you know far better than I do because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation.”

Then Our Lady replied:

“I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter.”

So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal, for the conversion of the people in that district he made straight for the Cathedral. At once unseen angels rang the bells to gather the people together and Saint Dominic began to preach.

At the very beginning of his sermon an appalling storm broke, out, the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and lightning that all were very much afraid. Even greater was their fear when looking at a picture of Our Lady exposed in a prominent place they saw her raise her arms to heaven three times to call down God’s vengeance upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their lives, and seek the protection of the Holy Mother of God.

God wished, by means of these supernatural phenomena, to spread the new devotion of the Holy Rosary and to make it more widely known.”

The Secret of the Rosary

So we can determine here that Mary told St Dominic to pray and also propagate the rosary. the rosary. In fact, this was affirmed by Pope Leo the Great and 13 other Popes!

Did Mary’s Psalter Exist Before St Dominic?

The Rosary, also called Mary’s Psalter, existed before St Dominic.

In the book, “Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon,  Fr Calloway states:

“Saint Dominic was not the founder of the monastic Marian Psalter; that already existed before his vision. Rather, he was chosen to be the founder and the father of a new way of praying the Marian Psalter, an evangelical way, infused with meditation on the sacred mysteries… The Church has always stated that when Mary exhorted St Dominic to preach her Psalter, she also revealed to him  specific mysteries that were to be associated with it.”   “Accordingly, when she gave him  the mysteries, the Queen of Heaven instructed St Dominic to divide the 150 Hail Marys of the Marian Psalter into 10 Hail Marys with each decade to a particularly mystery.  Source: Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon

mary gave st dominic the rosary

Pope Leo XIII Believed Mary Gave St Dominic the Rosary

As stated above, Pope Leo XIII also believed the Rosary was given to St Dominic.   In  his encyclical, on the Rosary, “Octobri Mense “,  he refers to the “great mysteries of Jesus and Mary united in joys, sorrows and triumphs.

He goes on to say:

“Moreover, we may well believe that the Queen of Heaven herself has granted an especial efficacy to this mode of supplication, for it was by her command and counsel that the devotion was begun and spread abroad by the holy Patriarch Dominic as a most potent weapon against the enemies of the faith…”

There  are countless  other orthodox Catholics who continue to believe that the 15 decades of the Rosary were given to St  Dominic by our Lady herself.

On this Feast of St Dominic, let us remember that the world does not change the Church. The Church changes the world.

Do you believe  the Rosary was given to St Dominic by our Lady, Mary?

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    5 thoughts on “Moderns Don’t Believe Mary Gave St Dominic the Rosary”

    1. What is the title and who is the artist of the second painting shown on this site – the one that shows both St. Benedict & St. Catherine of Sienna?

    2. One thing worth pointing out is that the ‘traditional’ account of St Dominic receiving the Rosary originates from about 200 years since St Dominic lived. None of St Dominic’s first biographers record or mention the account, and the earliest mention of it comes from Blessed Alan de la Roche (d. 1475). Even St Louis de Montfort in his Secret of the Rosary admits this, and Blessed Alan received the account via special revelation through a series of visions of the Blessed Virgin and St Dominic, rather than historical evidence, which is lacking from St Dominic’s successors and biographers.


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