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Rosary Victory in Brazil

"Give me a million families with rosaries in their hands, uplifted to Mary," said Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty in his last sermon before being imprisoned by the Communists in Hungary. "They will be a military power, not against other people, but for all mankind ... Let us, therefore take the rosary from family to family. With it in our hands, we shall conquer ourselves, convert sinners, do penance for our country, and will certainly move the merciful, mild, and benevolent Heart of Mary."

… The Catholic, Sept. 2003

This account of how courage and prayer saved Brazil from Communism in 1964, demonstrates the power of the Holy Rosary in our days. It is one of the most inspiring events in modern history.

When the eccentric Brazilian President Janio Quadros resigned in 1961, his office fell to Joao Goulart, an ambitious, left-wing politician who had just returned from extensive visits to Moscow and Peking. Goulart, upon assuming office, immediately began appointing top Communist Party members to high government posts. With the help of these agents, the Communists also took over Brazil’s most important trade union and many smaller ones.

Preaching class hatred, Goulart’s agents travelled throughout the countryside urging small farmers and peasants to rally behind the President’s call for "agrarian reform" — a familiar deception from Mao Tse-tung to Fidel Castro — and the nationalization of all Brazilian industries. Under his watchful eye, they established and ran a Student Union as a Castro travel bureau and recruiting center for guerrilla training in Cuba.

The entire country was in economic and political crisis, but the Church remained strong. The brave Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal de Barros Camara, went on the radio every week to warn the people that the regime was about to seize power for the Communists. The Cardinal asked the people of Brazil for prayer and penance, in keeping with Our Lady’s requests at Fatima. It was the only way, he said, that Brazil could be saved. His repeated pleas were heard by Brazilian Catholics, who turned to the Rosary.

By this time the Goulart regime had moved so far left, and his government was so heavily infiltrated with Communists, that reform seemed almost impossible. He further insulted the people of Brazil in a mid-March speech by ridiculing the Rosary. Not much progress toward reform, he said, could be made by reciting the Rosary; only by initiating more government control would the nation save itself from economic collapse and other woes. (Meanwhile, he and his henchmen were lining their pockets with U.S. foreign aid and Alliance for Progress funds.)

Communists were everywhere, trying to convince the people that Goulart’s policies were the right ones for Brazil to follow. His brother-in-law, Leone Brizola, one of the most powerful pro-Communists in the government, was dispatched to the Belo Horizonte State for an important ‘Land Reform Congress.’

When Brizola arrived at the hall where he was to speak, he found it packed — so full, in fact, that he could not make himself heard over the rattle of rosaries and murmur of 3,000 women praying for the deliverance of their country. Going outside, Brizola found the streets equally filled with praying Brazilians, as far as the eye could see. He left Belo Horizonte in a rage.

On March 19, the women of Sao Paulo jammed the wide streets of their downtown thoroughfare in what they called a "March of the Family With God Toward Freedom."

Clutching prayerbooks and rosaries, the vast army of more than 600,000 marched in solemn rhythm under anti-Communist banners. "Mother of God," a declaration the women had prepared stated, "preserve us from the fate and suffering of the martyred women of Cuba, Poland, Hungary and other enslaved nations."

Bystanders called the Sao Paulo march "the most moving demonstration in Brazilian history." Days later, similar marches were scheduled for several of the nation’s major cities. Efforts by the government to discourage them, and threats by the Red-controlled police to break them up, failed to halt the crusading women.

Mounting support by the military and the Church against the Communists finally forced Goulart, on April 1, 1964, to flee to Uruguay. Most of the officials he had appointed hurried out of the country that same day — many of them to Cuba.

The day following the bloodless anti-Communist revolution, the people of Brazil were reminded of what had really made the victory possible — the Rosary. The women had planned a "March of the Family With God - Toward Freedom" on April 2, 1964, in Rio de Janeiro. When a new government official suggested that it be called off for fear of violence, the women refused — the march would take place as scheduled. One of their leaders said it would now be called a "March of Thanksgiving to God." The march, she said, would "demonstrate to the world that this is a true People’s Revolution, a marching plebiscite for real democracy."

On April 2, 1964, an ocean of humanity, more than a million strong, moved through a snowstorm of confetti drifting down from the skyscrapers that line Rio de Janeiro’s wide boulevards. More than a million happy Brazilians marched to thank God and His Blessed Mother for saving their country from Communism.

Father Nicholas Gruner leading a Rosary procession at the Fatima Center. Organize a Rosary procession for peace in your area.

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