The “Rosary on the Borders” took place on October 7, 2017, feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This gigantic show of faith drew hundreds of thousands of Polish Catholics who gathered to recite the Rosary together all along their 2,200-mile border.
An initiative of the association Solo Dios Basta (God alone suffices – from the name of St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer), this Rosary crusade received the approval of the Polish bishops, who “appeal[ed] to all the faithful to support this initiative in large numbers.”
A Letter from the Bishops
The statement published on the website of the Polish Bishops’ Conference on September 20 explained: “We are nearing the close of centenary celebrations of Marian apparitions at Fatima. A hundred years ago, Mary gave these three Portuguese children a summons to salvation: ‘convert, give recompense for sins against my Immaculate Heart and recite the rosary’. A special way to realize this call is the national initiative Rosary on the Borders. The aim is a nationwide rosary prayer for Poland and the whole world by selected people along our country's frontier, and for us all to pray together - clergy, religious order members and lay adults and children."
The organizers explained their intentions on their website “Różaniec do granic, Rosary on the Borders,” whose subtitle is “In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph”: “Through this unprecedented prayer of the rosary, we want to show the faithfulness and obedience of Mary, who tirelessly calls us to recite the rosary. We also want to apologize and pay for all blasphemy, insults against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We wish to implore God by the intercession of His Mother to save Poland and the world. We believe that if the Rosary is prayed by about a million Poles along the borders of the country, it may not only change the course of events, but open the hearts of our compatriots to the grace of God.”.
Maciej Bodasiński, one of the founders of the association Solo Dios Basta, explained to the online Canadian and American journal Lifesitenews, “We desire to pray for the conversion of Poland, Europe and the whole world to Christ so that more souls will be saved from eternal damnation and find their path to God.”
The national prayer began at 10:30 a.m. in 320 churches of the 22 dioceses on the country’s borders, reported the Catholic channel Radio Marija on its website on the evening of October 7. The participants attended a conference then assisted at Mass followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. After a light meal, the faithful went to the designated prayer locations all along the 2,200-mile border from the mountains to the Baltic Sea to recite the Rosary at 2:00 p.m.
Some have accused the event of anti-Russian intentions, as the Italian website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana reports: “The left-wing Polish newspaper La Gazeta Wyborcza discredited the event, inventing accusations that the Rosary’s intention was against Russia. To which Maciej Bodasiński responded in his interview with Lifesitenews: ‘It isn’t and can never be prayer against someone. Prayer is never against someone, it is always for someone. Otherwise it would be a curse.’”
AFP said of this Rosary on the Borders that “the episcopate insisted that it was a purely religious initiative” but “ultra-Catholic” circles and many participants saw it as a “spiritual weapon” against what they call the “’Islamization’ of Poland and Europe.” RFI declared that Maciej Bodasinski “did not hesitate to proclaim that Islam is a danger for Catholic civilization and for Poland,” and desired to “oppose this danger with prayer and the strength of faith,” adding, “the distrust of part of the population for Islam is encouraged by the Catholic Church and the government that refuses to welcome Syrian refugees on its territory. Yet Poland has hardly any Muslim immigration. The only foreigners who have come to the country in large numbers are the Ukrainians.”
On this point Bodasiński responded to Lifesitenews: “In the face of growing tension, threats of war, and terrorism, we want to pray for peace for the world. But peace is understood not just as lack of war but as the peace of God, the peace of the heart. Many people who have converted say that this is the greatest gift that they have received from the Creator — peace of heart. Whatever happens, you trust [in God], and you are calm. We pray for peace for people, among people, and among nations”.
A Demonstration of Faith
On October 8, the Italian Vaticanist Marco Tosatti hailed this “demonstration of faith given by hundreds of thousands of Polish Catholics” and wondered that “such an imposing display of popular devotion received no echo in the words of the Sovereign Pontiff at the Sunday Angelus.” On his blog, he went on to mention the initiative launched by the AIASM (Italian Association of Marian Sanctuaries): “In Italy, a wall of people will recite the Rosary throughout our entire nation on Friday, October 13, at 5:30 p.m., following the teachings of Mary and the beautiful example of our Polish brothers, fasting and praying the Rosary, the most powerful initiative for peace.”
The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted on October 7, 1571, the day of the naval victory of Lepanto, when the Holy League’s warships triumphed over the considerably larger fleet of the Ottoman Turks. Pope Pius V had exhorted the Christian world to pray the Rosary, and ordered that the church remain open day and night. The Christian victory preserved the spiritual, cultural, and political destiny of Europe, and St. Pius V commemorated this date as the feast of "Our Lady of Victory". His successor, Gregory XIII, would later change the title of the feast to its current form: "Our Lady of the Rosary."