Curiosity about the history of the rosary tugged at me recently, but after two academic books tracing art and the development of the psalter, I picked up Donald H. Calloway’s, MIC, Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon (2016).
Fr. Calloway is on fire with love for Mary and the rosary.
But before I get carried away myself, let me give a brief overview of the book. As the name suggests, the book is divided into several parts: 1) a brief history of the rosary from St. Dominic to today, 2) brief biographies of 26 so-called champions of the rosary, and 3) tips for personal rosary devotion.
From a critical perspective, Fr. Calloway’s writing is very readable, although the history is at times complicated due to the sheer amount of material. Each chapter covers a particular time, but the subheadings within each chapter are more topical and difficult to keep in context. Fr. Calloway’s argument, however, is loud and clear: the “pious tradition” that St. Dominic received the rosary devotion from the Blessed Virgin Mary is the truth.
If you ever doubted the pious tradition, Fr. Calloway will make you feel guilty.
In Part II, the focus becomes stellar examples of Marian devotion. Each short biography contains a description of the person’s Marian devotion, an explanation of why they are a Champion of the Rosary, and “Rosary Gems”–quotations about that person or from that person on the rosary. (If this is really interesting to you, Fr. Calloway has a book just called “Rosary Gems”. I haven’t read it, but I do have his book on daily meditations about St. Joseph, which I love).
After Parts I and II, I dare you not to want to increase your own rosary devotion. After the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, after all, the Rosary may be the best prayer! You can decide, but Fr. Calloway has wisely included Part III to help you with your rosary. He discusses the reasons why you should pray the rosary, how to pray the rosary, as well as reflections for the mysteries. If you aren’t satisfied with that, he also lists ways you can become a Champion of the Rosary yourself by joining an official organization or encouraging others.
In a more academic setting, his lack of citations would be criticized, but I find his logic and references hold up well. Between this book and Fr. Gaitley’s “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told,” you will feel the immense spiritual battle we are a part of–and you will want to be prepared for it!
Take up the rosary, friends! Or at least get this book at your local Catholic bookstore or online for $16.95.
-Ann Moser, @interceptorismy on Twitter