Blessed James Alberione: Champion of the Rosary

Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971) was born in northern Italy and was one of the greatest pioneers in the field of Catholic media. When asked by his first grade teacher what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said that he wanted to be a priest. An erudite theologian, he earned a doctorate in theology and served for a time as a seminary professor and spiritual director. In his zeal to use modern means of social communication to spread the Gospel, he founded the Pauline family, consisting of 10 religious institutes for priests, religious, and laity.

He was ahead of his time in his ardor for using social communication as a means of spreading the Gospel. His work was so well respected that he was invited to attend every session of the Second Vatican Council as a theological consultant. Blessed Pope Paul VI greatly admired and supported his work, and took the time to visit Bl. James on his deathbed; an hour after the papal visit, Bl. James died. He was buried in the basilica he had constructed in Rome, the Basilica of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Saint John Paul II referred to him as the first apostle of the New Evangelization and beatified him on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2003. His feast day is celebrated on November 26.

Marian Devotion

Fr. Calloway praying before the tomb of Bl. James Alberione in Rome.

Fr. Calloway praying before the tomb of Bl. James Alberione in Rome.

From his earliest days, Bl. James manifested a profound devotion to Mary. Shortly after his birth, his mother consecrated him to Our Lady at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Flowers in northern Italy. All throughout his youth, he frequented this Marian shrine and spent countless hours in prayer to Mary. As a priest, he desired that everything be done under the watchful and maternal gaze of Mary. Some of his greatest Marian influences were Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, St. Vincent Pallotti, and Pope Leo XIII. Blessed Alberione’s Marian devotion led to personal sanctification and zealous apostolic activity. For this reason, in addition to stressing the importance of Mary’s motherhood for each Christian, he also emphasized Mary’s important apostolic work as our teacher and Co-Redemptrix. One of his favorite titles for Our Lady was “Queen of the Apostles.”

Blessed Alberione wrote many prayers to Our Lady and also composed a chaplet to Mary, Queen of Apostles. He so loved Mary’s title “Queen of the Apostles” that he saw to the construction of a new basilica in Rome to honor her under that same title. Mary was his favorite and most frequent topic when he preached. His writings on Our Lady total over 1,700 pages! He never missed an opportunity to introduce Mary into his many activities and apostolic works.

Champion of the Rosary

Blessed James Alberione often remarked that if Our Lady were to become more known, imitated, invoked, and loved, the world would be completely “Christianized.” He particularly stressed that the Christianization of the world would come about through the weapon of the rosary. Like so many before him, he believed that St. Dominic founded the rosary and frequently referenced the many battles that had been won for Christ and the Church through the power of the rosary. Whether he was teaching, preaching, or authoring books, he always provided numerous examples of the power of the rosary in the lives of the saints. He loved to refer to the heroic example of the saints who found in the rosary a great source of sanctity, strength, protection, and zeal in their apostolic actions.

Whenever Bl. Alberione was about to give a talk, it was his practice to pray a rosary before delivering the talk. When traveling by car, he would pray non- stop rosaries until he reached his destination. He held that the rosary is an easy and efficacious prayer, especially helpful for growing in virtue and overcoming the enemies of the spiritual life. Knowing the rosary to be a prayer most pleasing to Our Lady, he emphasized praying the rosary with faith, devotion, and a firm purpose of reforming one’s life. For this reason, he strongly encouraged people to pray the rosary on their knees when possible. He himself gave this pious example.

Rosary Gems

St. Dominic is the apostle of truth, but he is also the devout apostle of devotion to the rosary.

~ Blessed James Alberione

Blessed James Alberione

He [St. Charles Borromeo] instituted the Confraternity of the Rosary [in his diocese] and ordained that a solemn procession in honor of Mary, during which the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary was sung, be held in every parish on the first Saturday of every month. One night he was saying his evening prayers and the holy rosary, when a scoundrel broke into his quarters and fired a shot at him from close range. At the sound of the shot, the prayer ceased. Astonishment and terror seized those present, and although apparently mortally wounded, the saint smiled and calmly indicated to proceed with the prayers. At their conclusion, St. Charles Borromeo rose, and to his great surprise saw the bullet, which had barely ripped his outer garment, fall at his feet.

~ Blessed James Alberione

The rosary is a compendium of the Holy Gospel; it is a summary of the lives of Our Lord and the Virgin Mary; it is a summary of the entirety of Christian doctrine. Therefore, it has justly been called the Christian’s Breviary.

~ Blessed James Alberione

The rosary is pleasing to the Blessed Virgin because of its origin and its excellence. In fact, the rosary is not the product of human fancy; it was suggested to men by the Blessed Virgin herself, and she had the most sublime purpose for doing so. Mary personally gave us this precious token of salvation, and she also taught us the manner of using it. Is there any devotion [to Mary] more excellent than this?

~ Blessed James Alberione

More than once, through the rosary, those who were disseminating grave errors have been defeated. Through it many sinners have been converted to God; through it love of God and of his mother has bloomed anew. The Church herself has found in the rosary her shield of defense. With this mighty weapon she has defeated Satan, just as with a sling David defeated the giant Goliath. It is not without reason that the Supreme Pontiffs have strongly recommended this practice, enriching it with indulgences.

~ Blessed James Alberione

Always, everything was built more with the rosary than with other means.

~ Blessed James Alberione

The rosary, which the Church so highly recommends, is not only the font of many graces for the living, but also a most powerful means of aiding the dead.

~ Blessed James Alberione

The rosary is a prayer for the evangelization of the pagans, for the conversion of heretics, for the return of schismatics, for making lukewarm and superficial Christians fervent; for leading good Christians to sanctity.

~ Blessed James Alberione

The rosary of Mary is the great lever, it is the anchor of salvation for society and for individuals. Lepanto and Vienna are names associated with the rosary. The victories over the Albigensians, over French philosophism, over liberalism and modernism find their explanation in the rosary.

~ Blessed James Alberione

26 Champions of the Rosary

Learn about other Champions of the Rosary in this exciting book.

Following one’s vocation means waging a continuous battle because the devil will make every effort to ruin vocations. Thus, the rosary is the great means of victory.

~ Blessed James Alberione

The rosary can be recited everywhere: on the street, in the train, in the bus, in church, in waiting rooms — all places can be considered suitable for reciting the rosary.

~ Blessed James Alberione

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC


Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, has been a priest for 15 years and currently serves as Vicar Provincial and Vocation Director for the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.  He is the author of eleven books, a popular speaker at conferences, and frequently leads pilgrimages to Marian shrines around the world. To find out more about his books, pilgrimages, and to order St. Joseph Gems: Daily Wisdom on our Spiritual Father, go to

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  • Dr. Robert Schwartz

    Inspiring biosketch, thanks. The rosary is a fitting activity while driving or: instead of watching the wash cycle at a laundromat or replacing junkfood on the TV, etc.