Return to the document directory
Venerable Brothers the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local
Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brothers, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
It is a solemn custom of the faithful during the month of October to weave the prayers
of the Rosary into mystical garlands for the Mother of Christ. Following in the footsteps
of Our predecessors, We heartily approve this, and We call upon all the sons of the church
to offer special devotions to the Most Blessed Virgin this year. For the danger of a more
serious and extensive calamity hangs over the human family and has increased, especially
in parts of eastern Asia where a bloody and hard-fought war is raging. So We feel most
urgently that We must once again do what We can to safeguard peace. We are also disturbed
by what We know to be going on in other areas, such as the growing nuclear armaments race,
the senseless nationalism, the racism, the obsession for revolution, the separations
imposed upon citizens, the nefarious plots, the slaughter of innocent people. All of these
can furnish material for the greatest calamity.
2. Like Our immediate predecessors, We seem to have received a special task from God in
His providence to work patiently and constantly to preserve and strengthen peace. This
task, as is evident, arises from the fact that We have been entrusted with the governing
of the whole Church, which, as a "sign lifted up to the nations," does not
serve political ends but rather must bring the truth and grace of Jesus Christ, its divine
Founder, to mankind.
3. Indeed, from the very beginning of Our apostolic ministry, We have omitted no effort
to further the cause of peace in the world through prayers, entreaties and exhortations.
As you well remember, last year We flew to North America to speak about the most desirable
blessing of peace at the General Assembly of the United Nations, before a very
distinguished audience representing almost every nation. We warned against allowing
some to be inferior to others, and against allowing some to attack others. Instead, all
should devote their efforts and zeal to the establishment of peace. Even afterwards, moved
by apostolic concern, We did not stop urging those upon whom this great matter depends to
ward off from mankind the frightful disaster that might result.
4. Now once again We raise Our voice "with a loud cry and with tears,"
urgently beseeching those who rule over nations to do everything they can to see to it
that the conflagration spreads no farther but rather is completely extinguished. We do not
doubt that all men who want what is right and honorablewhatever their race, color,
religion and social classfeel the same as We do.
5. Therefore, let all those responsible bring about the necessary conditions for the
laying down of arms before the possibility of doing so is taken away by the pressure of
events. Those in whose hands rests the safety of the human race should realize that in
this day and age they have a very grave obligation in conscience. Mindful of their own
nation, of the world, of God and history, let them examine their own consciences. Let them
realize that in the future their names will be blessed if they wisely succeed in complying
with this exhortation.
6. In the name of the Lord We cry out to them to stop. Men must come together and get
down to sincere negotiations. Things must be settled now, even at the cost of some loss of
inconvenience, for later they may have to be settled at the cost of immense harm and
enormous slaughter that cannot even be imagined now. But this peace must be based on
justice and freedom for mankind, and must take into account the rights of individuals and
communities. Otherwise it will be fluid and unstable.
7. As We say all this with deep emotion and an anxious heart, it is only right for Us
to do as Our supreme pastoral care urges, and ask for help from heaven. Peace, which
"is such a great good that even among earthly, mortal things, there is nothing more
pleasant to hear, nothing more ardently desired, and finally nothing better to be
found," has to be sought from Him who is the Prince of Peace. But since the
Church, in uncertain and anxious times, has been accustomed to have recourse to that most
ready intercessor, her Mother Mary, We have good reason to direct Our own attention and
yours, venerable brethren, and that of all the Christian faithful, to her. For as St.
Irenaeus says, she "has become the cause of 180 salvation for the whole human
8. Nothing seems more appropriate and valuable to Us than to have the prayers of the
whole Christian family rise to the Mother of God, who is invoked as the Queen of Peace,
begging her to pour forth abundant gifts of her maternal goodness in midst of so many
great trials and hardships. We want constant and devout prayers to be offered to her whom
We declared Mother of the Church, its spiritual parent, during the celebration of the
Second Vatican Council, thereby winning the applause of the Fathers and of the Catholic
world, and confirming a point of traditional doctrine. For the Mother of the Savior is, as
St. Augustine teaches, "surely the mother of His members," and St. Anselm, to
mention only one other, agrees with him in these words: "What could ever be deemed
more suitable than for you to be the mother of those whose father and brother Christ
deigned to become?" She was called "most truly the mother of the Church"
by Our predecessor Leo XIII. Hence We have good reason to place our trust in her in the
midst of this terrible disorder.
9. If evils increase, the devotion of the People of God should also increase. And so,
venerable brothers, We want you to take the lead in urging and encouraging people to pray
ardently to our most merciful mother Mary by saying the Rosary during the month of
October, as We have already indicated. This prayer is well-suited to the devotion of the
People of God, most pleasing to the Mother of God and most effective in gaining
heavens blessings. The Second Vatican Council recommended use of the Rosary to all
the sons of the Church, not in express words but in unmistakable fashion in this phrase:
"Let them value highly the pious practices and exercises directed to the Blessed
Virgin and approved over the centuries by the magisterium."
10. As the history of the Church makes clear, this very fruitful way of praying is not
only efficacious in warding off evils and preventing calamities, but is also of great help
in fostering Christian life. "It nourishes the Catholic faith which readily takes on
new life from a timely commentary on the sacred mysteries, and it turns minds toward the
truths that have been taught us by God."
11. And so during the month of October, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, prayers
and petitions should be increased, so that through her intercession the dawn of true peace
may shine forth to men. This means true religious peace too, for unfortunately, not
everyone is allowed to profess his religion freely in this age. In particular, We want
October 4ththe day on which, as We mentioned earlier, We went last year
to the United Nations for the sake of peaceto be celebrated throughout the whole
Catholic world this year as a Day of Prayer for Peace. It will be up to you, venerable
brethren, in the light of your own commendable devotion and on the basis of the obvious
importance of this matter, to prescribe sacred ceremonies in which priests, religious and
the faithfulespecially boys and girls in the flower of their innocence, and the sick
and others who are sufferingcan all ask the help of the Mother of God and of the
12. On that day We Ourself will go to St. Peters Basilica, to the tomb of the
Prince of the Apostles, to offer special prayers to the Virgin Mother of God, protector of
Christians and mediator for peace. In this way heaven will be moved, in a sense, by the
one voice of the Church resounding from all the continents on the earth. For as St.
Augustine says, "Amid the various languages of men, the faith of the heart speaks one
13. Look down with maternal clemency, Most Blessed Virgin, upon all your children.
Consider the anxiety of bishops who fear that their flocks will be tormented by a terrible
storm of evils. Heed the anguish of so many people, fathers and mothers of families who
are uncertain about their future and beset by hardships and cares. Soothe the minds of
those at war and inspire them with "thoughts of peace." Through your
intercession, may God, the avenger of injuries, turn to mercy. May He give back to nations
the tranquillity they seek and bring them to a lasting age of genuine prosperity.
14. With confidence that the exalted Mother of God will graciously hear Our humble
prayer, We lovingly impart the apostolic blessing to you, venerable brethren, and to the
clergy and people committed to your care.
15. Given at St. Peters, Rome, on the 15th day of September, in the
year 1966, the fourth of Our pontificate.
1. Cf. ls 11. 12.
2. [Cf. TPS Xl, 47-57].
3. Heb 5.7.
4. St. Augustine, The City of God, 19. 11: PL 41. 637.
5. Is 9. 6.
6. Adversus Haereses 3. 22: PG 7. 959.
7. De Sanct. virg. 6: PL 40. 399.
8. Or. 47: PL 158. 945.
9. Encyc. Letter Adjutricem populi christiani, Sept. 5, 1895: Acta Leon.
15, 1896, p. 302.
10. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 67 [cf. TPS X, 399].
11. Pius Xl, Encyc. Letter lngravescentibus malis, Sept. 29, 1937: AAS 29 (1937), 378.
12. Enarr. in Ps. 54. 11: PL 36. 636.
Return to the document directory
E-Mail this info to a friend
Fill in these fields to e-mail a link to this page to a friend, along with any other information you'd like to include:
Add this information to your web site
To add a link to this information to your own web site, simply copy this code into your site's html. Replace the XXXXX with whatever descriptive text you'd like to use.
Click here to learn about how to become an affiliate.