St. Dominic de Guzman is the founder of the Order of Preachers (commonly called the Dominicans). He is the saint to whom Our Lady famously appeared and gave the devotion of the Holy Rosary. The Holy Rosary was to assist him in combating the Albigensian heresy that wreaked havoc in the Church then. This apparition occurred in southern France, in a small, out-of-the-way spot known as Prouilhe in the Languedoc region.
The Dominican Monastery of cloistered nuns was established by St. Dominic at Prouilhe, in the Languedoc region of southern France. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and Dominican Monastery in Prouilhe was an ancient pilgrimage shrine to Our Lady which St. Dominic restored and used as the cradle of his Order of Preachers. It was there that he established his headquarters, it was also there that he founded his first community of cloistered nuns, and here where Our Lady, in the year 1208, first gave him the devotion of the holy rosary as his spiritual weapon to labor with her in the fight for souls. During the French Revolution, the church and monastery were completely destroyed and leveled to the ground and the nuns were scattered. The monastery was later rebuilt but never finished due to the lack of funds.
Even though the construction was never completed, it is still in use today as a Dominican monastery of contemplative nuns. It is in a terribly sad state of disrepair, however, there is hope that one day the funds will be raised to restore and complete the building project. Before, at a beautiful side altar to Our Lady of the Rosary in Prouilhe, the nuns sing the Salve Regina every night at Vespers.
Between 1170–1221, during that time St. Dominic was laboring without success to convert souls back to the one true faith, Our Lady gave him a powerful weapon, the Angelic Salutation (i.e. the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to the Virgin Mary at the Incarnation), and the pattern in which it should be prayed.
She also gave the rosary “mysteries” which reflected on the Incarnation, Passion, and death of her Son. The words of the Angelic Salutation combined with meditations on the divine mysteries were to be used as a prayer and catechism tool to teach the people the true Christian faith.
St. Dominic was to preach her rosary and its meditations on the life of Christ that many souls would be converted from their error and saved through her intercession.
The Blessed Virgin said to him: “Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”
See one papal encyclical describing this gift from Our Lady to the Church below.
“Our merciful God, as you know, raised up against these most direful enemies a holy man, the illustrious parent, and founder of the Dominican Order. Great in the integrity of his doctrine, in his example of virtue, and by his apostolic labors, he proceeded undauntedly to attack the enemies of the Catholic Church, not by force of arms; but trusting wholly to that devotion which he was the first to institute under the name of the Holy Rosary, which was disseminated through the length and breadth of the earth by him and his pupils.
Guided, in fact, by divine inspiration and grace, he foresaw that this devotion, like a most powerful warlike weapon, would be the means of putting the enemy to flight, and of confounding their audacity and mad impiety. Such was indeed its result. Thanks to this new method of prayer—when adopted and properly carried out as instituted by the Holy Father St. Dominic—piety, faith, and union began to return, and the projects and devices of the heretics to fall to pieces. Many wanderers also returned to the way of salvation, and the wrath of the impious was restrained by the arms of those Catholics who had determined to repel their violence.” – Supremi Apostolatus Officio, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Devotion of the Rosary.
The Dominicans, the Church’s first religious order devoted to preaching, were given the special task by Our Lady to preach her Holy Rosary across Europe, and the order in which the universal Church prays the rosary today is taken from the original Dominican form.