Pope John Paul II and the Holy Rosary

“Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” – St. Padre Pio

Pope St. John Paul II no doubt took the words of St. Padre Pio into account, not only based on our knowledge of his daily rosary, but on the myriad of other things he did to bring devotion to Our Lady and “the weapon” she gave to us.

The pope is often put in a very difficult position, one that strives to bring people to Christ through the relevant societal issues, while at the same time avoiding the temptation to become entrenched in the culture. Pope St. John Paul II struck a very fine balance by reaching people where they were at and inviting them to grow in personal holiness through the rosary.

Whether it was the Cold War, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, or the war on the family, he maintained refreshingly steadfast faith in the Rosary and its powerful reach. He would encourage us to pray for peace, for solutions, for hope, and for love in all encounters. And when we ask for noble things, Our Lady is always capable of going to Our Lord in our stead and we know that Jesus loves His mother too much to say no. As St. Maximilian Kolbe said, “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”

And what better way to sainthood than by imitating those before us? St. John Paul II had special devotions to Padre Pio, Louis de Montfort, and Jacinta and Francisco Marto – two of the Fatima children that he himself canonized – all of whom were devoted champions of the Holy Rosary. At Fatima, Our Lady expressed her desire for daily rosaries and St. John Paul II didn’t plan on disappointing the Mother of God. He said this campaign must be taken up not only by our generation but by all future generations, for the salvation of all.

On May 13th, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope St. John Paul II was making his way through the crowds in St. Peter’s Square when suddenly, the sound of gunshots rang out. Turkish assassin Ali Agca fired four shots in total, two of them hitting two female bystanders and two of them striking the Holy Father. One was a flesh wound, striking his left hand. The other hit him center mass. As they rushed him to the hospital, it was looking like a fatal wound.

But it was not his time. The bullet had missed his vital organs and arteries by fractions of an inch; by his own account, a miraculous occurrence. “It was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path.” One finger pulled the trigger, and another guided the bullet. Pope John Paul II, crediting Our Lady of Fatima with his survival, eventually visited his would-be assassin in prison and forgave him face-to-face.

In 2002, in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II instituted the five Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary to celebrate the light of God as demonstrated through Jesus’ life: the Baptism of Jesus, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist. His devotion to Our Lady was unending and he said the rosary is “among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation.”


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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.