“The Dominican Order, which from its very beginning has been most devoted in honoring the Blessed Virgin, and by which the institution and propagation of the Confraternity of the Rosary was accomplished, holds as its inheritance all that belongs to this devotion.”
– Pope Leo XIII, Ubi Primum, n. 1.
The history of both the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary and the Rosary itself are bound up with the early history of the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans). According to a longstanding and well-known tradition, St. Dominic first received the Holy Rosary from Our Lady in the 13th century. Since then the Dominican friars have zealously promoted this devotion to Christ and His Blessed Mother.
The first Rosary Confraternity was established in the 1470s through the zealous preaching of the Dominican friar Alan de la Roche, O.P. A few years later, another local Rosary Confraternity was established in Cologne by Joseph Sprenger, O.P. After this, Rosary Confraternities began to be established throughout Europe. It was partly due to the spread of the Rosary Confraternity that devotion to Our Lady’s Rosary flourished so widely and a uniform way of reciting the Rosary developed. From the beginning, Rosary Confraternities were erected under the direction of the Dominican friars and the formal chartering of Rosary Confraternities eventually became an apostolic privilege reserved to the Dominican Order.
The Dominican Rosary
The Dominican Friars have traditionally prayed the Rosary in a way that is slightly different from the (now) more common method. The Dominican method begins with a series of verses and responses that recall the opening of the Liturgy of the Hours and also the Angelic Salutation that forms the first part of the Hail Mary.