Mary, Help of Christians, in Leo XIII's Adiutricem (On the Rosary)

Abridged from sections 8-16.

The power thus put into her hands is all but unlimited. How unerringly right, then, are Christian souls when they turn to Mary for help as though impelled by an instinct of nature, confidently sharing with her their future hopes and past achievements, their sorrows and joys, commending themselves like children to the care of a bountiful mother. How rightly, too, has every nation and every liturgy without exception acclaimed her great renown, which has grown greater with the voice of each succeeding century. Among her many other titles we find her hailed as "our Lady, our Mediatrix,"[3] "the Reparatrix of the whole world,"[4] "the Dispenser of all heavenly gifts."[5]

Since faith is the foundation, the source, of the gifts of God by which man is raised above the order of nature and is endowed with the dispositions requisite for life eternal, we are in justice bound to recognize the hidden influence of Mary in obtaining the gift of faith and its salutary cultivation-of Mary who brought the "author of faith"[6] into this world and who, because of her own great faith, was called "blessed.""O Virgin most holy, none abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; none, O Mother of God, attains salvation except through thee; none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee."[7]

It is no exaggeration to say that it is due chiefly to her leadership and help that the wisdom and teachings of the Gospel spread so rapidly to all the nations of the world in spite of the most obstinate difficulties and most cruel persecutions, and brought everywhere in their train a new reign of justice and peace. This it was that stirred the soul of St. Cyril of Alexandria to the following prayerful address to the Blessed Virgin: "Through you the Apostles have preached salvation to the nations . . . through you the priceless Cross is everywhere honored and venerated; through you the demons have been put to rout and mankind has been summoned back to Heaven; through you every misguided creature held in the thrall of idols is led to recognize the truth; through you have the faithful been brought to the laver of holy Baptism and churches been founded among every people."[8]

Hence it is that the Church and the Fathers have given expression to their joy in Mary in words whose beauty equals their truth: "Hail, voice of the Apostles forever eloquent, solid foundation of the faith,unshakable prop of the Church."[10] "Hail, thou through whom we have been enrolled as citizens of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."[11]"Hail, thou fountain springing forth by God's design, whose rivers flowing over in pure and unsullied waves of orthodoxy put to flight the hosts of error."[12] "Rejoice, because thou alone hast destroyed all the heresies in the world."[13]

That the one self same profession of faith may unite the minds of Christian nations in peace and harmony, that the one and only bond of perfect charity may gather their hearts within its embrace--such is our prayerful hope! And may Mary, by her powerful help, bring this ardently desired gift into our possession! And remembering that her only begotten Son prayed so earnestly to His heavenly Father for the closest union among the nations whom He has called by the one Baptism to the one inheritance of salvation bought for an infinite price, will she not, for that reason, see to it that all in His marvelous light will strive as with one mind for unity? And will it not be her wish to employ her goodness and providence to console the Spouse of Christ, the Church, through her long-sustained efforts in this enterprise, as well as to bring to full perfection the boon of unity among the members of the Christian family, which is the illustrious fruit of her motherhood?


3. St. Bernard, Serm. II in Adv.
4. St. Tharasius, Orat. in Praesentatione.
5. On Off. Graec., 8 Dec.
6. Hebr. 12:1.
7. St. Germ. Constantinop., Orat. 11, in Dormitione B.M.V.
8. St. Cyril Alex., Homil. contra Nestor.
9. Ibid.
10. Ex hymno Graecorum.
11. St. John Damasc., in Annuntiatione Deigenitricis, n. 9.
12. St. German. Constantinop., Orat. in Praesentatione B.M.V.
13. In Officio B.M.V.

Excerpted from Leo XIII's encylical letter on the Rosary, Adiutricem , 5 September 1895.