In 1920 a group of women from Paterson, New Jersey asked if they could come to the monastery and hold a procession on the exterior grounds. They left, promising to return, thus beginning the tradition of pilgrimages at our monastery which in later years would draw tens of thousands of pilgrims from across the country.
The pilgrimages to the monastery continued to grow organically after that first pilgrimage from Paterson, and by January of 1921, the bishop had given permission to construct a grotto on the grounds for the use of the pilgrims. This grotto was completed and blessed at the first public Rosary Pilgrimage held in May of 1921.
The second Rosary Pilgrimage was held in October of that year, and at that Pilgrimage, Fr. Thomas a Kempis Reilly O.P., the preacher for the occasion, christened the monastery “Rosary Shrine”, an unofficial name which has stuck! On this same occasion, the Sisters began printing a magazine which they entitled “The Rosary Pilgrim".
The monastery chronicles describes the advent of the Rosary Pilgrim:
The Rosary Pilgrim is the little magazine which is to serve as the organ of the newly established League [Rosary Pilgrimage League]. It is edited by Mr. Edwin Leman, an Editor of the well known Catholic News, and will be published bi-monthly at a yearly subscription price of fifty cents.
The first issue, a booklet of eight pages, was distributed on the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary. It was full of spirit and life.
As a Catholic periodical, the Rosary Pilgrim published articles on popular piety of the time, stories of saints, upcoming public events at the Monastery such as the Rosary Pilgrimages, as well as other articles that explained to the lay faithful what the life of a cloistered nun was like, or even advertisements for the handicrafts and pickles produced by the nuns! The Rosary Pilgrim had a special emphasis on promoting devotion to the rosary, especially through encouraging pilgrimages to the shrine. In the early days of the monastery, as many as 20,000 pilgrims came to attend the Rosary Pilgrimages, and pilgrims came regularly on their own to make private pilgrimages as well. However, as time passed, pilgrims to “Rosary Shrine” began to decline, and eventually the Rosary Pilgrim stopped publication. In 1992 when the community was looking for a name for the community newsletter, “The Rosary Pilgrim” seemed to be a fitting choice, and has served as the title for our newsletters up until a couple years ago, when the prohibitive costs of printing and mailing led us to change formats yet again. However, with our October and May Rosary Pilgrimages, the tradition of the Rosary Pilgrimages still continues!
Below, take a look at the very first Rosary Pilgrim published October 1921 - as the chronicles describes, “full of spirit and life”!