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In one of the first monasteries founded by St. Dominic, there lived a lay brother whose story follows. In the world he was called Antonio, and in the cloister Fra Rosario. His pious mother had taught him from childhood to recite the Ave Maria. Since he was a herdsman, he often went to say it in a small oratory of the Blessed Virgin, which was abandoned.
One day he clearly heard Mary’s voice calling out to him, “Antonio, I desire that you crown Me.” Our young shepherd immediately set about gathering flowers, forming a diadem of them and placing it on the forehead of the statue of the divine Mother. The next day, the child was sad to see his crown faded. Every day, he weaves a new crown of flowers for his beloved Queen.
Winter comes; where can he find flowers? He hears again the heavenly voice saying to him: “Antonio! I want you to crown Me.” He searches in vain for a flower; but he remembers that he saw at a merchant’s in the neighboring town, tiaras of all kinds. He runs there, tells his story, but he has no money to pay. However, the child’s naive air and piety inspired confidence in the merchant, who gave him a small silver circle topped with a finial. Transported with joy, the child was about to withdraw, when a richly dressed lady entered the store, and learning the cause of the child’s joy, she said to him: “Choose the most beautiful thing, I will pay for it.” Antonio, at the height of happiness, chooses a splendid gold tiara, adorned with precious stones.
Then he flies to his little shrine, and persuaded that nothing more beautiful can be offered to his loving Sovereign, he lays his crown on Our Lady’s forehead with joy. But Mary’s voice is still heard: “Antonio, I thank you; nevertheless it is not yet the crown I desire from you.” At this new revelation, the young shepherd boy bursts into tears; and, prostrating himself at the feet of the statue: “My good Mother, he says to Her, teach me, then, what crown You desire. – Well! replied the statue, you have heard of My servant Dominic; go to him; he will teach you.”
St. Dominic was already preaching the devotion of the Rosary. One day he was praying in a remote place, overwhelmed with fatigue, when a poorly dressed young teenager approached him; it was Antonio. Dominic let him tell him about the favors of Mary and the message she had given him. Then he taught him the devotion of the Rosary. Charmed to know this excellent way of honouring his good Mother, and attracted by the Saint’s gentleness, Antonio expressed his desire to enter his Order. Dominic admitted him without difficulty and imposed on him the beautiful name of Fra Rosario, as if he were a true child of the Rosary.
From then on, the new lay brother never ceased to recite the Rosary, as much as his occupations allowed. Even at night, he continued to weave mystical crowns to the Queen of Saints, crowns such as she loved and that time would never fade.
He lived in the Order until a very old age, and when he died, on the point of expiring, he still held between his thin fingers the Rosary which had served to crown his beloved Queen so many times. It was then that Mary appeared to him crowned with a triple crown of white, red and yellow roses of marvelous brilliance. “Fra Rosario, said the divine Mother, do you recognize these crowns? It is you who put them on My head. You crowned Me on earth according to My desire; come, I will crown you in heaven, with a diadem of glory and immortality.”
At the same moment the holy old man stretched out his arms, holding in his hand his rosary, and pronouncing the first words of the Angelic Salutation, “Ave Maria!” he expired gently, and his soul flew into Heaven. A religious of great sanctity saw him the next night seated on a shining throne, and heard the Angels singing in chorus: “This is how those will be rewarded who, during their lives, will have often crowned their Queen with the mystical roses of the most holy Rosary!”
O holy life! O precious death of Mary’s children! who would not wish to please this lovable Sovereign? We have just learned the means of achieving this: let us use it, then, until the end of our earthly career.
Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Mother of God. Amen.
O Jesus! We are going to walk with You on the road to Calvary which was so painful for You. Make us understand the greatness of Your sufferings, touch our hearts with tender compassion at the sight of Your torments, in order to increase in us the regret of our faults and the love we wish to have for You.
Deign to apply to all of us the infinite merits of Your Passion, and in memory of Your sorrows, show mercy to the souls in Purgatory, especially to those who are most abandoned.
O Divine Mary, who first taught us to make the Way of the Cross, obtain for us the grace to follow Jesus with the sentiments Your Heart was filled with as You accompanied Him on the road to Calvary. Grant that we may weep with You, and that we may love Your divine Son as You do. We ask this in the name of His adorable Heart. Amen.
My Jesus, forgiveness and mercy!
By the merits of Thy holy Wounds and the sorrows of Thy Mother.