The Story of the Rosary Confraternity
The Rosary has always been the special devotion of the Dominican Order and is an exemplary way of prayer. Through the contemplation of the Mysteries we are able to meditate on the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Mary, the Mother of God, teaches us, prays with us, and guides us every closer to Her Son. We are also assured that there are few more powerful forms of petitionary prayer than the Rosary.
The Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary (known also as the Rosary Altar Society or Rosary Society in the United States) is an international association of the faithful that exists “to praise and honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and to secure her patronage by the recitation of the Rosary for the mutual spiritual benefit of all the members throughout the world.”
The first documented Rosary Confraternity was established in the 1470s through the zealous work of Blessed Alan de la Roche, O.P. It bears mentioning that Bl. Alan claimed that his foundation was merely a re-foundation of the earliest Confraternity, dating back to the work of St. Dominic himself. Bl. Alan's work led to Rosary Confraternities being established far beyond its original foundations. From the beginning, Rosary Confraternities have been erected under the direction of the Dominican Friars and the establishment of all Rosary Confraternities eventually became a privilege reserved to the Dominican Order. Promotion of the Rosary reached a watershed point with the Dominican Pope St. Pius V; the Rosary has since maintained a central place in the life of the Church.
The form of the Rosary has changed over the years, from St. Pius V adding to the Angelic Salutation to give us the modern Hail Mary, to Dominican Priestly Fraternity member St. Louis De Montfort adding the Apostles' Creed to the Rosary's beginning. Each of these changes are seen as a legitimate development of this excellent devotional prayer. The Confraternity was last reorganized by Pope Leo XIII in 1898 with his Apostolic Constitution, Ubi Primum, and continues to exist, under the direction of the Dominican Friars, in accordance with the norms of the current Code of Canon Law (1983).
Chances are if your parish has an altar or icon depicting St. Dominic receiving the Rosary from Our Blessed Mother, a Rosary Altar Society already exists at your parish. Once a Confraternity is established it exists in perpetuum, which is to say always, even if Confraternity is no longer active. Changes made at the Second Vatican Council have opened questions for the Rosary Confraternity, but have also opened new possibilities. For example, a designated Rosary Altar is no longer a requirement to establish a local Confraternity; further, the need for a designated altar no longer serves as an obstacle to an instantiation of the Confraternity across a geographical Province.
The Rosary Confraternity is probably the largest organization of this type within the Catholic Church. In addition, enrolled members also participate in all the prayers and good works performed by the friars, nuns, sisters, and laity of the Dominican Order.
Today, members of the Rosary Confraternity promise the recitation of a weekly Rosary as their sole obligation. This small obligation — which itself does not bind under pain of sin — brings extensive spiritual benefits. Along with several plenary and partial indulgences that are granted to members of the Confraternity, members also benefit from the countless Rosaries that are offered for their intentions by the other members throughout the world. The Catholic faithful, and any other interested person may enroll in the Confraternity through any of the Dominican Provinces by contacting the Provincial Promoter of the Holy Rosary.
The Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great
The Province of St. Albert the Great is also known as the Central Province, U.S.A. The Central Province is a network of ministries, parishes, and educational institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico. Our Dominican Friars are campus ministers, educators, evangelists, hospital chaplains, and pastors.
The mission of the Central Province is to communicate the Word of God through preaching, theological education, and the promotion of justice and peace. And one of the greatest forms our preaching takes is that of the Rosary.