The Rosary is a scriptural meditation and devotion to Mary the Mother of God. It consists of many prayers that are repeated throughout. The Rosary focuses on 15 Mysteries of the life of Christ. Many good things are known to have come from the Rosary and Scapular. For more info check out

How to Say the Rosary:

The traditional rosary consists of five sets of ten beads (known as decades), each separated by a larger bead. There is an extension from this main circle of the rosary consisting of a crucifix, a large bead, three small beads, and another large bead.

On the crucifix, say the Apostles' Creed.
On the first large bead, say an Our Father.
On the next three beads, say three Hail Marys.
On the second large bead, say another Our Father.
Now you come to the main part of the rosary. Say an Our Father on each of the large beads, and a Hail Mary on each of the fifty small beads. When you finish, you may enter your petitions and say a Hail, Holy Queen.

The rosary is used for meditation on the 15 mysteries of Christ's life. Each decade of the rosary represents a single mystery. Which mysteries you meditate on depends on the day of the week:

On Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays in Advent and from Epiphany to Lent: The Five Joyful Mysteries
1. The Annunciation (when the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was with child.)
2. The Visitation (when Mary visited the pregnant Elizabeth).
3. The Nativity (Christ's birth).
4. The Presentation (when Christ was presented at the Temple in accordance with Jewish tradition).
5. Finding in the Temple (when Joseph and Mary found Christ in the Temple teaching the elders).

On Tuesdays, Fridays, and every day during Lent: The Five Sorrowful Mysteries
1. Agony in the Garden (when Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane).
2. Scourging at the Pillar (when Roman soldiers whipped Christ).
3. Crowning with Thorns
4. Carrying of the Cross
5. The Crucifixion

On Wednesdays, Saturdays, and for Sundays from Easter until Advent: The Five Glorious Mysteries
1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. Descent of the Holy Spirit (when Christ sent the Holy Spirit on his apostles).
4. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (when Christ took Mary into heaven).
5. Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary (when Christ crowned Mary the Queen of Heaven).

Side note: Protestants may find some of these mysteries disconcerting, since they involve beliefs unique to the Catholic Church.

The rosary can also be used for other prayers, such as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
At the beginning of each decade it is recommended, especially when praying the rosary in a group, to announce the mystery being contemplated.

Also, at the end of each decade the Fatima prayer may be added.

Finally, praying the rosary bestows upon the faithful the Fifteen Promises of the Virgin Mary.

On October the 16th 2002 Pope John Paul II began the 25th year of his reign. In order to mark this historic event he declared the year (Oct 2002 – Oct 2003) “The year of the Rosary”.

In his public address he urged Catholics everywhere to continue to pray the Rosary as often as possible. On the same day he also introduced five new mysteries of the Rosary called the Luminous Mysteries or Mysteries of Light.

The Pope felt that while the old mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious) focused on Jesus’ birth, passion and resurrection they made no mention of Jesus’ ministry and the Mysteries of Light were designed to fill this need.

The Luminous Mysteries are as follows

  1. The Baptism of Jesus.
  2. The Wedding at Cana.
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
  4. The Transfiguration
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist

As a result of these new Mysteries the days on which the mysteries were traditionally prayed (see wu above) had to be changed. The system now looks like this:

It is still traditional to pray the Glorious mysteries everyday from Easter Sunday until the following Sunday.

There a huge number of regional traditions relating the rosary but the basic formula described in SueZVudu’s wu is always the same. One interesting variant however is a German one. In Germany the mystery being prayed is incorporated into every Hail Mary as follows. Take the standard Hail Mary and at the end of the line:

“blesséd are thou amongst women and blesséd is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”
(“Du bist gebenedeit unter den Frauen und gebenedeit ist die Frucht Deines Leibes Jesu”)
add on what Jesus did in the Mystery you are praying.
e.g. “blesséd are thou amongst women and blesséd is the fruit of thy womb Jesus, who rose from the dead.”
(“Du bist gebenedeit unter den Frauen und gebenedeit ist die Frucht Deines Leibes Jesu, der von den Toten auferstanden ist.")

This tradition is a particular favorite of Pope John Paul II’s because it underlines the emphasis of the Rosary on Jesus rather than on Mary.

The Holy Rosary

The Five Joyful Mysteries

  1. The Annunciation
  2. The Visitation
  3. The Nativity
  4. The Presentation in the Temple
  5. The Finding in the Temple

The Five Luminous Mysteries

  1. The Baptism of Jesus
  2. The Miracle at Cana
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven
  4. The Transfiguration
  5. The Institution of the Holy Eucharist

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries

  1. Our Lord's Agony in the Garden
  2. The Scourging of Our Lord at the Pillar
  3. The Crowning with Thorns
  4. The Carrying of the Cross
  5. His Death on the Cross

The Five Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  2. His Ascension into Heaven
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
  4. The Assumption of our Lady into Heaven
  5. The Coronation of Our Lady

The Familial Mysteries (of a Layman)ok'd by Father Flynn, these are my own idea because I found in the life of St Joseph, invariants of the confusion of family life in general. He sets an example for the heads of households. The recent history of the Church called for contributions from the laity, and this is mine. it is not officially approved by the Catholic Church however.

  1. St.Joseph accepts Mary as his wife.
  2. The Holy Family set out to Jerusalem
  3. St. Joseph takes the family to Egypt to escape Herod
  4. St. Joseph is directed by an angel to return to Galilee where Jesus is raised
  5. The Holy Family set out for a family gathering and Jesus sets off on His own

There is also an Anglican rosary. This is separate from certain Anglo-Catholic groups and/or Anglicans who actually do pray the rosary as the Catholics do.

Prayer beads have a long and noble history in the story of faith, dating back some five thousand years. The Eastern church counted pebbles, and then moved to knotted ropes called "chotki". In the Western Church praying on knotted strings and/or beads began in the ninth century in Ireland, in the community of St. Colomba.

In fact the word "bead" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "bede", meaning prayer.

Though the rosary in the Christian tradition is typically considered a Roman Catholic affectation, it actually was part of the Church of England and did persist into the Protestant era. Martin Luther did not, during the Reformation, abandon the use of the rosary, but he did shorten the Ave Maria to "Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou and the fruit of thy womb, Jesus". In so doing, he removed the plea for Mary to pray for the person praying the rosary, aligning it with newer theologies. The practice of praying the rosary fell into disuse with the likes of Calvin and later reformers, worried about the Biblical injunction against vain repetition of prayer.

Matthew 6:7 - "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words."

In the 1980s, an Episcopal priest by the name of the Reverend Lynn Bauman gathered together a group of parishioners and started to explore the prayer bead custom. The design that followed from that initiative is a simplified grouping of thirty three beads, with a cross.

Rather than decades and such, the design is simpler. At the bottom of the rosary, where you start, is a cross (albeit without a corpus). From there you go to an invitiatory bead, and then follow along upwards to a circle - with four groupings of seven small beads, called "weeks", separated by four "cruciform" beads (they're at cardinal points on the circle, making a cross).

The general idea is to start with the cross, and acknowledge God's presence.

The invitiatory bead is used in the recitation of a call to prayer.

The cruciform beads typically involve a scripture reading.

On the "weeks" beads, one typically prays a verse from the Psalms.

An example prayer, taken from "Praying with Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Year", is as follows.

(Cross) - "In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit".

(Invitiatory) - "Merciful God, be ever with us, listening to us and strengthening us".

(Cruciform) - "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is".

(Week) - "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord".

(Invititatory (again)): The Lord's Prayer

(Cross (again)): "Thanks be to God, Amen."

Two things prevent this from being something one does in a rote fashion: one is the fact that the prayer is a bit more complex than the relatively easy to remember Ave Maria, also that the aforementioned book and other sources suggest a different sequence of prayers for each week in the church year. It means, in effect, that the prayer be somehow in an open book or otherwise copied and the beads used in a sensory fashion to mark each prayer deliberately, as opposed to simply rattling off the same prayer over and over again.

I have three pamphlets and a book on the use of an Anglican rosary, and have taken not only to using them but also making them. Threading beads can be in and of itself a reflective and prayerful task, and giving these to other parishioners is a way to share something nice as well as getting them to broaden their horizons in terms of their own worship.

Ro"sa*ry (?), n.; pl. Rosaries (#). [LL. rosarium a string of beads, L. rosarium a place planted with roses, rosa a rose: cf. F. rosaire. See Rose.]


A bed of roses, or place where roses grow.

"Thick rosaries of scented thorn."


2. R.C.Ch.

A series of prayers (see Note below) arranged to be recited in order, on beads; also, a string of beads by which the prayers are counted.

His idolized book, and the whole rosary of his prayers. Milton.

A rosary consists of fifteen decades. Each decade contains ten Ave Marias marked by small beads, preceded by a Paternoster, marked by a larger bead, and concluded by a Gloria Patri. Five decades make a chaplet, a third part of the rosary.

Bp. Fitzpatrick.


A chapelet; a garland; a series or collection, as of beautiful thoughts or of literary selections.

Every day propound to yourself a rosary or chaplet of good works to present to God at night. Jer. Taylor.


A coin bearing the figure of a rose, fraudulently circulated in Ireland in the 13th century for a penny.

Rosary shell Zool., any marine gastropod shell of the genus Monodonta. They are top-shaped, bright-colored and pearly.


© Webster 1913.

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