Prouille Apparition

by Amyobala Key

Dominic de Guzman - St. Dominic   

Our Lady of the Rosary refers to an alleged apparition that appeared to a Spanish preacher, Domingo de Guzman, later to become Saint Dominic. The holy man travelled to southern France to oppose the Albegesian heresy which by 1208 A.D. was spreading rapidly. In the year 1208, while he was allegedly praying in a chapel in Prouille, France, the apparition of the Blessed Virgin came to him. She gave him the Rosary and urged him to preach the Rosary to all devout Christians as a remedy against heresy and sin. Domingo de Guzman founded an order of preaching friars who set out to quash the Albegesian heresy and establish monasteries all over the world. It was the beginning of the Dominican Friars, or the Dominicans.

The legend is dubious, coming from one Alan de la Roche, some 250 years later. A number of writers doubt the report and even some Dominicans discard the testimony of de la Roche. According to Fr. Thurston in an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia: "Alan was a very earnest and devout man, but, as the highest authorities admit, he was full of delusions, and based his revelations on the imaginary testimony of writers that never existed", specifically "Thomas de Templo" and "Joannes de Monte."

Since there is evidence that counting devices of beads existed long before St. Dominic and since the lives of St.. Dominic make no mention of the apparition nor did the witnesses at his canonization, the legend is greatly lacking in substance.

In the majority of apparitions, the entity appears to innocents multiple times and appears more concerned about world peace than religious expression. It is only a papal support throughout the centuries that speaks of St. Dominic as the author of the Rosary, and suggests that there was a more divine influence of its creation. (Pope Alexander VI, 1495; Pope Leo X, 1520, as well as others.)

The apparition is mentioned here only because of its recognition by the church, and because tradition suggests that the Rosary came directly from the Blessed Virgin Mary to Domingo de Guzman (St. Dominic). But for those pilgrims who may wish to follow a journey that incorporates locales of significant appearances by Mary, it appears that Prouille, France can likely be bypassed.

Additional Notes:

The Rosary replaced a popular devotion that consisted of reciting the 150 Psalms of the Bible, fifty at a time. Instead of the Psalms, 150 Our Fathers were recited, and over the course of the middle ages, the Lord's Prayer was replaced by Hail Mary. In the 4th Century, prayer rope was used to count repetitions of the Jesus Prayer. About 1075, lady Godiva referred in her will to a "circlet of precious stones" which she had threaded on a cord in order that by fingering them sequentially, she might count her prayers accurately. In 1160, St. Rosalia was buried with a string of prayer beads, fifty years before St. Dominic allegedly authored them through the divine apparition. It should, however, be noted that by 1917, the apparition at Fatima was said to have asked that the Fatima Prayer be added to the Rosary, and that the Rosary is to be said to stop the Great War (World War One), suggesting that divine entities, do indeed have a concern for religious expression.

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