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The Rosary Reforms a King’s Disorderly Life

St. Louis Grignion de Montfort
Alfonso VIII, King of Aragon and Castille, had been leading a disorderly life and had been punished by God in several ways. A particularly hard blow was the great defeat he and his army suffered at at Alarcos against the Almohads in 1195. Afterward, he was forced to take refuge in a town belonging to one of his allies.

Alfonso VIII

King Alfonso VIII of Aragon & Castille

St. Dominic happened to be in this town on Christmas Day and he preached on the Rosary as he usually did, and spoke of the graces that we obtain through this devotion. He mentioned, among other things, that those who said the Rosary devoutly would overcome their enemies and regain all they had lost.

The King listened attentively and sent for St. Dominic to ask whether what he had said about the Rosary was really true. The Saint assured him that nothing was more true, and that if only he would practice this devotion and join the Confraternity, he would see for himself.

The King resolved to say the Rosary every day and persevered for a year in doing so.

The very next Christmas, Our Lady appeared to him at the end of his Rosary and said, "Alfonso, you have served me for a year by saying my Rosary devoutly every day, so I have come to reward you. I have obtained the forgiveness of your sins from my Son. Here is a rosary, which I present to you; wear it, and I promise you that none of your enemies will be able to harm you."

Our Lady vanished, leaving the King overjoyed and greatly encouraged. He immediately went in search of the Queen and told her all about our Lady's gift and the promise that went with it. He touched her eyes with this rosary, for she had lost her sight, and she was cured.

las naves

Alfonso VIII & allies led 10,000 knights & 60,000 infantry at Las Navas de Tolosa against an army twice that size

In 1212, the King rallied his troops and led the coalition of Christian Princes and foreign crusaders and boldly attacked his enemies once in the landmark Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. With the battle slowly going against him, Alfonso rallied the Knights of Calatrava and Santiago and charged furiously. The sight of the King flying into the Moslems with his lance lowered and accompanied by a Canon carrying the banner of Our Lady inspired the entire front to sweep forward.

Moslem resistance collapsed and the battle turned into a rout. This victory marked the arrival of a tide of Catholic supremacy on the Iberian Peninsula.

King Alfonso VIII of Castile became so successful in war that soldiers came from all sides to fight under his standard because it seemed that whenever he went into battle the victory was sure to be his. This is not surprising because he never went into battle without first saying his Rosary on his knees.

The King made certain that the whole of his Court joined the Confraternity of the Rosary and he saw to it that all his officials and servants were devoted to it. The Queen also joined the Confraternity, and they both persevered in the service of Blessed Virgin and lived very holy lives.

statue Alphonsus VIII

King Alfonso VIII


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Adapted from The Secret of the Rosary, Brooklyn, 1954, 38th Rose
Posted May 15, 2021