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The Rosary

The origin of the Rosary can be debated, and really is not important. It's origins may date back to the twelfth century and the rosary evolved over time to it's present form. The word Rosary is Latin for a garland of roses and fits well with the Hail Mary prayers that make up the bulk of the Rosary. The strength of the Rosary is not in the Hail Mary but in the meditation on the life of Christ which is contained in the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary. The Rosary can be an extremely useful prayer form especially when life is in turmoil. The repetition of the Hail Mary quiets the mind and the thought process, and allows Christ to more easily enter.

Writings on the Rosary

While outwardly emphasizing veneration of Mary, the rosary in reality leads through her to Jesus. The complete rosary essentially consists in reciting fifteen decades and meditating on the topic (the "mystery") assigned to each. Both the prayers and the topics of meditation have scriptural sources.
Someone correctly praying the rosary pays less attention to the framework of vocal prayer than the topics proposed for meditation. These include all the chief aspects of God's redemptive work: the Incarnation, Jesus' suffering and death, his resurrection and ascension, the sending of the Holy Spirit, and the first fruit (in Mary's glorification) of what God is doing through Jesus by the Spirit's sanctifying work. This meditative content sums up the Eucharistic liturgy and the annual cycle of the Church's worship, and so the rosary can extend and prepare for the Eucharist.
-From Living a Christian Life By Germain Grisez

The Rosary is made up of two things: mental prayer and vocal prayer. In the Holy Rosary mental prayer is none other than meditation of the chief mysteries of the life, death and glory of Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Vocal prayer consists in saying fifteen decades of the Hail Mary, each decade headed by an Our Father, while at the same time meditating on and contemplating the fifteen principal virtues which Jesus and Mary practiced in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
In the first five decades we must honor the five Joyous Mysteries and meditate on them; in the second five decades the Sorrowful Mysteries and in the third group of five, the Glorious Mysteries. So the Rosary is a blessed blending of mental and vocal prayer by which we honor and learn to imitate the mysteries and the virtues of the life, death, passion and glory of Jesus and Mary.
-St. Louis de Montfort

In 2002 Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter to all the bishops, clergy and faithful on the most holy rosary - it is posted on the Vatican website and contains wonderful information about the rosary including the new "Mysteries of Light" which complete the traditional 15 mysteries of the rosery. The writings below reflect the addition of these mysteries.

A brother SacraMentor, Joe Kiibler, has prepared another introduction to the rosary with some meditations on the mysteries. It is in adobe acrobat form, to view it click here.

A Picture of the Rosary with Prayers as Indicated

A Rosary with Instructions


How To Pray The Rosary

The Rosary is divided into five decades. Each decade represents a mystery or event in the life of Jesus. There are Fifteen Mysteries in all. They are divided into 4 groupings of 5 Mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous). Note: The Rosary can be said in either direction. It is customary to complete 5 decades before stopping. The other decades can then be done or completed later. The average length of time to say 5 decades Rosary reverently is 20 minutes. On July 13, 1917 during an apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, she asked that a prayer of forgiveness be said after each decade of the Rosary, this is the source of the Fatima prayer.
See the "Common Prayers" page for the words to the prayers in the Rosary.

  1. Make the Sign of the Cross and say The Apostles' Creed. You may also pray your intention for the Rosary if desired.
  2. Say the Our Father.
  3. Say three Hail Marys for the intention of an increase of Faith, Hope and Charity.
  4. Say one Glory Be to the Father. (I usually finger the rope/chain before the "Our Father" bead.)
  5. Announce the First Mystery, then say the Our Father.
  6. Say ten Hail Marys.
  7. Say one Glory Be to the Father and one Fatima prayer, announce the Second Mystery, then say the Our Father.
  8. Say ten Hail Marys.
  9. Say one Glory Be to the Father and one Fatima prayer, announce the Third Mystery, then say the Our Father.
  10. Say ten Hail Marys.
  11. Say one Glory Be to the Father and one Fatima prayer, announce the Fourth Mystery, then say the Our Father.
  12. Say ten Hail Marys.
  13. Say one Glory Be to the Father and one Fatima prayer, announce the Fifth Mystery, then say the Our Father.
  14. Say ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be to the Father and Fatima prayer.
  15. You can Conclude by reciting the Hail, Holy Queen and the optional Prayer after the Rosary or continue around the rosary and say the rest of the mysteries with 15 more decades for a complete Rosary.

The Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary

Start with the appropriate Mystery for the day/season. If you wish to say all 20 decades then incorporate the other three Mystery groups.

Said on Mondays and Thursdays and the Sundays from the First of Advent until Lent.
1st Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation to Mary
2nd Joyful Mystery: The Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth
3rd Joyful Mystery: The Nativity of Our Lord
4th Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
5th Joyful Mystery: The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple

Said on Tuesdays and Fridays and the Sundays of Lent.
1st Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord

Said on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the Sundays from Easter until Advent.
1st Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection of Our Lord
2nd Glorious Mystery: The Ascension of Our Lord
3rd Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4th Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
5th Glorious Mystery: The Coronation of Our Lady

Said on Thursday.
1st Luminous Mystery: His Baptism in the Jordan
2nd Luminous Mystery: His self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana
3rd Luminous Mystery: His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion
4th Luminous Mystery: His transfiguration
5th Luminous Mystery: His institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal mystery

Virtual Rosary

Michael Montolone has used his programming skills to create a free "Virtual Rosary" you can download to your computer and use. I keep it on my desktop. As you pray the rosary the words to the prayer are displayed (in your choice of English, Latin, or Spanish). As you say the Hail Mary you are offered a visual meditation on the Mystery and a short scripture passage which changes as you progress through the decade. A very well done program. There are currently three renditions of this program. One for Windows based computers, one for Palm OS based handhelds, and one for computers running the Macintosh OS. This is not shareware, it is free as a gift to all that wish to use it (do share it with your friends though).

Visit the Virtual Rosary site and download it if you wish. The file is 1.3 MB in size and comes in a self extracting file for installation.

this page written by Steve Egge