Review of Praying the Rosary with the Martyrs,
by Nick Donnelly

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Donal Anthony Foley reviews, Praying the Rosary with the Martyrs, by Nick Donnelly (CTS Publications, D 670, £1.95)

This CTS booklet is a follow up to Nick Donnelly's Nick Donnelly's Praying the Rosary With the Saints. The introduction reminds us of the great number of Christian martyrs who gave their lives for the faith during the 20th century - at 26 million, the greatest number in the whole history of the Church.

As Nick Donnelly points out, it is a tragedy that their witness has been "for the most part, unacknowledged, and forgotten." Most of these suffered under communism, but there have also been many other repressive regimes who have persecuted Catholics and Christians. He focuses on the point that martyrs from the different Christians denominations have "communion with Christ in glory", because they shared one baptism in Christ. Thus. this booklet has a decided ecumenical focus, although Donnelly does single out Blessed Titus Brandsma and St Maximilian Kolbe, as two Catholic martyrs who particularly witnessed to the power of the rosary.

As before, this introduction is followed by a section on how to use this booklet, which has details of the various mysteries to be prayed on particular days, before they are explained in more detail.

The main part of the booklet has each set of mysteries, preceded by an intention, with the points for meditation being statements in some cases from the Gospels, but in the main from the writings of some of the most important Christian martyrs of our era. These include many names which will be familiar to Catholics, such as Edith Stein, and Charles de Foucauld, but also lesser-known figures, or at least figures that one would not normally particularly associate with the rosary, such as Oscar Romero.

At first sight, some of these choices, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran, or Janani Luwum, a Ugandan Anglican Bishop, seem a bit strange, but when it is realized that they were martyrs for Christ, even if they weren’t Catholics, then surely there is a place for them in such a collection. The same argument can be applied to the Orthodox Christians whose words are also quoted as meditations.

Mary is the spiritual mother of all mankind, and her role is to lead the whole of humanity to her Divine Son. The above figures may have been divided into various Christian denominations in life, but surely after death they now live with Christ in unity and harmony?

In any event, the quotations which have been chosen do seem to be particularly appropriate.

This main part of the text, 39 pages, forms the main part of the booklet, while a final section of 27 pages has short biographies of the martyrs and confessors quoted previously. These range from Adele Dirsyte, (1909-1955), a Lithuanian lay woman, who died as a result of torture and deprivation in a Communist prison, to Walter Ciszek, a Catholic priest who endured years of suffering in Siberia.

Undoubtedly this booklet will be very helpful for anyone who seeks to pray the rosary in an “ecumenical” way, or with the intention of praying for Christian unity.

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