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The History of the Rosary Society

The Rosary Altar Society, officially known as the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, is a spiritual association whose members undertake to say the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary once every week. The Society was founded in the fifteenth century by Alan del la Roche, a Dominican Friar. On October 2, 1898, Pope Leo XIII issued the apostolic constitution on the Most Holy Rosary (Ubi primum) containing the laws, rights, and privileges of the Confraternity. It states that the Confraternity was instituted so that the faithful, united in fraternal charity by the prayer of the Rosary, may praise and honor the Blessed Virgin and secure her patronage. The right of erection the Rosary Confraternity is assigned to the Dominican Master, and the Order “holds as its inheritance all that belongs to this devotion.” The Rosary Confraternity has spread throughout the Catholic world, including the United States, where it exists in many parishes under the title of Rosary Altar Society. Although men and children may be enrolled and enjoy all the rights and privileges of the Confraternity, in the United States the parish Rosary Altar Society restricts its membership to women. Since the time of Alan del la Roche, the Confraternity has been the primary means of propagating devotion to the Rosary, and has raised the Rosary from a form of private prayer to that of shared or common prayer. “For whenever a person fulfills the obligation of reciting the rosary according to the rule of the Confraternity, he includes in his intentions all its members, and they in turn render him the same service many times over” (Ubi primum 1). Pope Leo XIII

Source: Immaculate Conception Church, Haines Falls, NY http://www.immaculateconceptionchurchny.org/rosaryaltarsociety.html