("Looking back over the) Long Space of Time (which...We have passed in the Supreme Pontificate...")
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII
ON THE ROSARY
To Our Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries having Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Looking back over the long space of time, which by God's Will We have passed in the Supreme Pontificate, We cannot but acknowledge that, in spite of Our demerits, We have enjoyed the most singular protection of Divine Providence. This We believe must be attributed principally to the united, and therefore most efficacious, prayers, which, as of old for St. Peter, so now also for Ourselves, are constantly being poured forth by the Universal Church. Wherefore We first of all give profound thanks to God, the Giver of all good things, and we shall continue as long as life lasts to cherish in mind and heart gratitude for each and every favour. And next, there comes to Our mind the sweet remembrance of the motherly protection of the august Queen of Heaven; and this memory likewise We shall cherish and preserve inviolate, ever thanking her and proclaiming her benefits. From her, as from an abundant spring, are derived the streams of heavenly graces. "In her hand are the treasures of the mercies of the Lord" (St. John-Damascene, Sermon I. on the Nativity of the blessed Virgin). "God wisheth her to be the beginning of all good things" (St. Irenaeus, Contra Valen., J. iii., cap. 33). In the love of this tender mother, which We have constantly striven to cherish and to grow in day by day, We confidently hope that We may end Our life.
Summary of Preceding Encyclicals on the Rosary
2. We have long desired to secure the welfare of the human race in an increase of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, as in a powerful citadel, and We have never ceased to encourage the constant use of the Rosary among Christians, by publishing every year since September 1, 1883, an Encyclical Letter on this subject, besides frequently issuing Decrees, as is well known. And now, since God in His merciful Providence has this year again allowed Us to see the approach of the month of October, which We have already consecrated to our Heavenly Queen under the title of the Rosary, We would not refrain from again addressing you; but summarizing in a few words all that we have hitherto done for the promotion of his form of prayer, We will crown our work by yet a new document, in which Our earnest desire and zeal for this form of devotion to Mary may appear still more clearly, and the fervour of the faithful may be stimulated to the devout and constant use of this pious practice.