The holy rosary is composed, principally and in substance, of the prayer of Christ and the angelic salutation, that is, the Our Father and the Hail Mary. It was, without doubt, the first prayer and the principal devotion of the faithful and has been in use all through the centuries.
It was in the year 1214 that the Church received the holy rosary in its present form and according to the method we use today. It was given to the Church by St. Dominic, who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a means of converting the Albigensians and other sinners. Saint Dominic, seeing that the gravity of people’s sins was hindering the conversion of the Albigensians, withdrew into a forest near Toulouse, where he prayed continuously for three days and three nights.
During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of Almighty God. He used his discipline so much that his body was lacerated and finally he fell into a coma. At this point Our Lady appeared to him accompanied by three angels. She said: “Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?” He responded: “Oh, my Lady, 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 principal weapon 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.
An appalling storm broke out at the very beginning of his sermon. The earth shook, the sun was darkened and there was so much thunder and lightning that all were very much afraid. Their fear was even greater 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 the wrath of Almighty God upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their lives and to seek the protection of the holy Mother of God.
Almighty God wished by means of these supernatural phenomena, to spread the new devotion of the holy rosary and to make it more widely known. At last, at the prayer of Saint Dominic, the storm came to an end. He then continued to preach. So fervently and compellingly did he explain the importance and value of the rosary that almost all the people of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their false beliefs. In a very short time a great improvement was seen in the town; people began leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits. (St. Louis Marie De Montfort)