Can the rosary defeat one of the world’s deadliest terror groups?

A Nigerian woman wearing a rosary attends a prayer meeting for schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram

Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme is a Nigerian prelate who reports that Jesus appeared to him in a vision offering him a rosary and saying the words, “Boko Haram is gone.”

The bishop interpreted the vision as an instruction from Our Lord that the terrorist organisation will be eradicated if we pray the rosary. “It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram,” he said.

Bishop Dashe Doeme has started an apostolate to encourage us to pray the rosary. His claim may seem bizarre to the secular mind: the idea that ordinary Christians who recite five decades of the rosary will help to restore peace to troubled parts of the globe.

But it would be unfair to scoff at Bishop Dashe Doeme. The use of the rosary to overcome violent adversaries is well-documented.

The most dramatic of all military victories credited to the recitation of the rosary was the Battle of Lepanto, where a Christian fleet defeated a Turkish Muslim fleet against all the odds on October 7 1571.

Before the battle, Pope Pius asked that all the faithful recite the rosary, and instructed the churches to put on the Forty Hours’ Devotion, together with public processions and recitations of the rosary. For three hours before battle the Christian sailors said the rosary.

Things didn’t look good for the Christian side because the wind had been against them. Then when the Turks launched the first attack, the wind suddenly dropped. The battle was frenzied, but the Christians won. The commander of the fleet, Don Juan always ascribed the victory to Our Lady’s intercession.

A cynic might say we are fantasising about the Queen of Heaven’s intercession, and even some Christians may feel that we are over-emphasising the importance of the rosary. Our Lady was, however, very clear about the tremendous influence of the rosary when she instructed the three children at Fatima: “Recite the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” Our Lady was referring to World War I, and at Fatima she requested that we offer a daily rosary to prevent wars.

To this day there remains a little confusion as to whether Our Lady asked us to recite five decades a day, or 15 decades. This is because in the English language, when we say “the rosary”, we might mean saying five decades, or 10, or 15. But Our Lady spoke to the three children in Portuguese, and she was plain that her request was that we offer five decades every day.

For the most part, it only takes 15 minutes to do, and if we take the Queen of Heaven at her word, we will play our part in bringing about world peace.