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Grata Recordatio

St John XXIII's encyclical on the Rosary:
Prayer for the Church, Mission, international and social problems
26 September 1959 - also in Italian, Latin, Portuguese & Spanish

To the Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

From the years of my youth I often have the grateful memory of the encyclical letters which my predecessor Leo XIII, in the imminence of the month of October,  addressed many times to the Catholic world, so as to exhort the faithful, especially during that month, to the pious practice of the holy rosary. (1) These encyclicals were varied in their content, rich in wisdom, vibrant with ever new inspiration and as appropriate as ever to the Christian life. They were a strong and persuasive call to make trustful supplications to God, through the very powerful intercession of the virgin Mother of God, with the recitation of the holy rosary. This, in fact, as everyone knows, is a most excellent way of meditative prayer, constituted as a mystical crown, in which the prayers of the "Our Father", "Hail Mary" and "Glory be" are intertwined with the consideration of the highest mysteries of our faith, through which the drama of the incarnation and redemption of Our Lord is presented to the mind as in so many pictures.

This sweet memory of my youthful age, with the passing of the years, has never abandoned me, nor has it faded; on the contrary - I say this with paternal confidence - it made the holy rosary very dear to my spirit, which I never fail to recite in its entirety every day of the year: an act of Marain piety wich I desire above all to accomplish with particular ferour in the month of October.

During the course of this first year - which is drawing to a close - of my pontificate, I have not missed the opportunity many times to exhort the clergy and the Christian people to public and private prayers; but now I intend to make it with an exhortation that is more lively, I will say, and moved, for reasons that I will briefly explain in this encyclical.


This coming October marks the first anniversary of the most pious transitus of my predecessor Pius XII, whose existence shone with so many and so great merits. Twenty days later, without my having any merit, through the mysterious design of God, I was raised to the supreme pontificate. Two supreme pontiffs stretch out their hands, as (if) to pass on the sacred inheritance of the mystical flock and to proclaim the continuity of their anxious pastoral solicitude and their love for all peoples.

Are not these two events, the one of sadness, the other of jubilation, the clear demonstration before/to everyone, that, in the perpetual succession of human events, the Roman pontificate survives down through the course of the centuries, even if each visible head of the Catholic Church, after the time established by Providence, is called to leave this earthly exile?

Turning their gaze both to Pius XII, and to his humble successor, in whom the office of supreme pastor entrusted to St Peter is perpetuated, the faithful raise the same prayer to God: "Protect the pope, the bishops and all the ministers of the Gospel, we pray to you, hear us Lord!" (Litaniae Sanctorum)

And I also like to recall here that my immediate predecessor with the encyclical Ingruentium malorum already once exhorted the faithful of the whole world, as I do now, to the pious practice of the holy rosary especially in the month of October. In that encyclical there is an admonition that I gladly repeat here: "Turn with ever greater trust to the virgin Mother of God to whom Christians always and principally have recourse in adversity, inasmuch as she "was constituted source of salvation for all the human race" (St Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, III, 22).


On 11 October I will have the great joy of consigning the crucifix to a large group of young missionaries who, abandoning their homeland, will assume the arduous task of bringing the light of the Gospel to distant peoples. On the same day, in the afternoon, it is my desire to go up to the Janiculum to celebrate with good wishes the first centenary of the founding of the North American College, together with the superiors and students.

These two ceremonies, although unintentionally organised for the same day, have the same significance: that is of clear and decisive affirmation of the supernatual principles which move every activity of the Catholic Church; and of the willing and generous dedication of her children to the cause of mutual respect, of fraternity and of peace between peoples.

The wonderful spectacle of these young people, who, having overcome innumerable difficulties and hardships, offer themselves to God, so that others too may come into the possession of Christ (cf Phil 3, 8), both in the most distant lands, not yet evangelized, and in the immense industrial cities - where, despite the whirling pulse of modern life, souls sometimes dry up and let themselves be oppressed by earthly things - this specatcle, I repeat, is such as to move and encourage the vision of better days. young men present such a wonderful spectacle that We must be optimistic for the future. They have overcome many obstacles and inconveniences and given themselves to God that other men might gain Christ, (8) whether in foreign lands as yet untouched by the light of truth or in those immense, noisy, and busy cities in which the pace of daily activity, rapid as a whirlwind, sometimes makes souls wither and become content with earthly goods.

The ardent prayer of St Peter flourishes on the lips of the elders, who have born the the weight of these grave responsibilities up to now: "Grant to thy servants to announce your word with every confidence" (cf Acts 4, 29)

I therefore sincerely desire that, during this next month of October, all these my children will be recommended with fervent prayers to the august virgin Mary.


There is, moreover, another intention which urges me to make/address more ardent supplications to Jesus Christ, and to his most loving Mother, to whom I invite the acred college of Cardinals, you, verable brothers, the priests and consecrated souls, the sick and the suffering, the innocent children, and all the Christian people. And it is this: so that the men responsible for the destinies of large as well as small collectivities/communities, whose rights and immense spiritual riches must be scrupulously preserved intact, would carefully evaluate the serious task of the present hour.

I therefore pray to the Lord, that they may try to know thoroughly the causes that originate the conflicts, and with good will overcome them; above all, may they evaluate the sad toll of the ruins and damage of armed conflicts - may the Lord keep them far away - and not place any hope in them; that they may adapt the civil and social legislation to the real needs of men, not forgetting the eternal Laws, which come from God, and are the foundation and hinge of civil life itself; and that they may be always thoughtful of the unearthly destiny in every single soul, created by God to reach and enjoy it one day.

It should also be remembered that philosophical positions and practical attitudes absolutely irreconcilable with the Christian faith have spread today. With serenity, precision and firmness, I will continue to affirm this irreconcilability.

But God made men and the nations curable/healable! (cf Wis 1, 14)

And therefore I trust that, putting aside the arid postulates of a crystallized thought and a penetrated action of secularism and materialism, that sound doctrine will be treasured, which every day is more validated by experience, and the appropriate remedies will be sought. Now this doctrine urges that God is author of life and its laws; that he is the champion of the rights and dignity of the human person; consequently that God is "our salvation and redemption!" (From Sacred Liturgy).

My gaze goes to all the continents, where peoples are on the move towards better times, and in which I see an awakening of profound energies, which gives hope in a commitment of upright consciences in promoting the true good of human society. In order that this hope may be accomplished in the most consoling way, that is, with the triumph of the kingdom of truth, justice, peace and charity, I ardently desire that all my children form "one heart and one soul" (Acts 4, 32), and raise common and fervent supplications to the celestial Queen and our beloved Mother during the course of the month of October, meditating on these words of the apostle to the Gentiles: "In every way we are troubled, but not oppressed; we are hesitant, but not desperate; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are killed, but not extinct; carrying always in our body the mortification of Jesus Christ; so that the life of Jesus may manifest itself in our bodies" (2 Cor 4, 8-10).

Before ending this encyclical letter, venerable brothers, I desire to invite you to recite the rosary with particular devotion also for these other intentions that are so dear to my heart: that is, so that the synod of Rome may be fruitful and salutary for this my alma city and that from the next ecumenical council - in which you will participate with your presence and with your council - the whole Church obtains such a wonderful affirmation that the vigorous reflowering of all the Christian virtues, which I expect from it, will serve as an invitation and spur also for all those my brothers and children, who are separated from this apostolic see.

With this most joyful hope and with great affection I impart the apostolic blessing to you, venerable brothers, to the faithful entrusted to you individually, and in a special way to those who, with piety and good will, will accept this my invitation, impart the Apostolic Blessing to each and every one of you, Venerable Brethren, to the flocks entrusted to your care, and to those individuals especially who will respond to Our entreaties in a devout and zealous spirit.

Rome, at St Peter's, 26th September 1959, the first year of my pontificate.


(1) cf the following encyclical epistles in Acta Leonis XIII: Supremi Apostolatus, III, 280 ff.; Superiore anno; Quamquam pluries; Octobri mense; Magnae Dei Matris; Laetitiae sanctae; lucunda semper; Adiutricem populi; Fidentem piumque; Augustissimae Virginis; Diuturni temporis.