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Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross
The Rosary
The Holy Rosary
History of the Rosary
Prayers of the Rosary
Promises of the Rosary
Introduction to Prayer
A Guide to Prayer
A Guide to Prayer and Readings from the Bible
A Guide for The Rite of Penance
A Guide for the Examination of Conscience
Basic Prayers of the Catechism
Basic Prayers
Communion of Saints
Glory to God
Penitential Rite
Profession of Faith - Nicene Creed
Profession of Faith- Apostles’ Creed
The Lord's Prayer
Liturgical Seasons
Easter Triduum
Ordinary Time
Special Occasions
Prayer for Our Armed Forces
Prayer for Thanksgiving
Prayer for The New Year
Prayer of Thanks
Special Prayers
8 Second Prayer
Christ has no Hands
How to Live
Prayer for Evangelization
Prayer for the Faithful Departed
Prayer for Vocations
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Prayer to Your Guardian Angel
RENEW Prayer
The Eucharist
The Eucharist
The Holy Spirit
Give Me Orders
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit

The Rosary


Introduction | How to Pray the Rosary | History | Rosary Beads | The Mysteries | Days of Recitation | Notes

The Holy Rosary

- Prepared by Andrew Chabak and Dan Murphy

This section is devoted to the Rosay. It is hoped that by learning its origin, history and prayer format that you will become a new Rosarian, who prays the Rosary to Mary each day. The St. James website provides an electronic Rosary, which can be used to help parishioners pray remotely on-line or during work The praying hands can be clicked on to count the prayers as in its hand held version.

 The word rosary comes from Latin and means a garland of roses, the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Virgin Mary. If you were to ask what object is most emblematic of Catholics, people would probably say, "The rosary, of course." We're familiar with the images: the silently moving lips of the old woman fingering her beads; the oversized rosary hanging from the waist of the nun; more recently, the merely decorative rosary hanging from the rearview mirror.

After Vatican II the rosary fell into relative disuse. The same is true for Marian devotions as a whole. But in recent years the rosary is back, and not just among Catholics. Many Protestants now say the rosary, recognizing it as a truly biblical form of prayer-after all, the prayers that comprise it come mainly from the Bible.

The rosary is a devotion in honor of the Virgin Mary. It consists of a set number of specific prayers. First are the introductory prayers: one Apostles' Creed (Credo), one Our Father (the Pater Noster or the Lord's Prayer), three Hail Mary's (Ave's), one Glory Be (Gloria Patri).

Click to Access The on-line Rosary on the St. James Site:

Until the recent addition of five additional Mysteries by Pope John Paul II, (the Vatican Rosary Page ) the Rosary had been prayed in three parts of five Mysteries assigned throughout the week. Today the Rosary can be prayed in four parts, one part each day, with the "Mysteries" (which are meditated or contemplated on during the prayers) being rotated daily.

What distinguishes the Rosary from other forms of prayer is that, along with the vocal prayers, it includes a series of meditations. Each decade of the Rosary is said while meditating on one of the "Mysteries" of redemption. These mysteries originated in the 15th century.

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary has the liturgical rank of universal memorial. It is associated with Our Lady of Victory and is celebrated on October 7 on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar in commemoration of the "Victory of Our Lady" at the Battle of Lepanto.

How to Pray the Rosary

Click here to view the Prayers of the Rosary on the Saint James Website

How to pray the Rosary
1. While holding the crucifix make the Sign of the Cross and then recite the Apostles Creed.
2. Recite the Our Father on the first large bead.
3. Recite a Hail Mary for an increase of faith, hope and charity on each of the three small beads.
4. Recite the Glory Be to the Father on the next large bead.
5. Recite the Fatima Prayer "O my Jesus" on the large bead.
6. Recall the first Rosary Mystery and recite the Our Father on the large bead.
7. On each of the adjacent ten small beads (also referred to as a decade) recite a Hail Mary while reflecting on the mystery.
8. On the next large bead, recite the Glory Be to the Father, the Fatima prayer.
9. Each succeeding decade is prayed in a similar manner by recalling the appropriate mystery, reciting the Our Father, ten Hail Marys, the Glory Be to the Father, and the Fatima prayer while reflecting on the mystery.
10. When the fifth mystery is completed, the Rosary is Customarily concluded with the Hail Holy Queen, and the Sign of the Cross.



The rosary probably began as a practice by the laity to imitate the monastic Divine Office (Breviary or Liturgy of the Hours), during the course of which the monks daily prayed the 150 Psalms. The laity, many of whom could not read, substituted 50, or even 150, Ave Marias (Hail Marys) for the Psalms. This prayer, at least the first half of it so directly biblically, seems to date from as early as the 2nd century, as ancient graffiti at Christian sites has suggested. Sometimes a cord with knots on it was used to keep an accurate count of the Aves.

The first clear historical reference to the rosary, however, is from the life of St. Dominic (died in 1221), the founder of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans. He preached a form of the rosary in France at the time that the Albigensian heresy was devastating the Faith there. Tradition has it that the Blessed Mother herself asked for the practice as an antidote for heresy and sin.

One of Dominic's future disciples, Alain de Roche, began to establish Rosary Confraternities to promote the praying of the rosary. The form of the rosary we have today is believed to date from his time. Over the centuries the saints and popes have highly recommended the rosary, the greatest prayer in the Church after the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours. Not surprisingly, it's most active promoters have been Dominicans.

Rosary means a crown of roses, a spiritual bouquet given to the Blessed Mother. It is sometimes called the Dominican Rosary, to distinguish it from other rosary-like prayers (e.g. the Franciscan Rosary of the Seven Joys or Franciscan Crown, the Servite Rosary of the Seven Sorrows). It is also, in a general sense, a form of chaplet or corona (crown), of which there are many varieties in the Church. Finally, in English it has been called "Our Lady's Psalter" or "the beads." This last derives from an Old English word for prayers (bede) and to request (biddan or bid).

The rosary has been called the preparation for contemplation and the prayer of saints. While the hands and lips are occupied with the prayers (it can and should be prayed silently when necessary so as not to disturb others), the mind meditates on the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption represented by the decades. Meditation is the form of prayer by which the one who prays uses the mind and imagination to consider a truth and uses the will to love it and form resolutions to live it. In this way the heart, mind, and soul of the Christian is formed according to the Gospel examples of the Savior and His First Disciple, His Mother. In God's own time, when this purification of the heart, mind, and soul has advanced sufficiently the Lord may give the grace of contemplative prayer, that special divine insight into the truth which human effort cannot achieve on its own.

Why pray the Rosary today? Certainly, to grow in holiness and in one's prayer life. The following are a few others reasons why the rosary should be prayed often, even daily:

  • Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary" (Pope Pius IX).
  • Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world" (Our Lady of Fátima).
  • There is no surer means of calling down God's blessings upon the family . . . than the daily recitation of the Rosary" (Pope Pius XII).
  • We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that we put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils of our times" (Pope Pius XII).
  • No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary" (Bishop Hugh Doyle).
  • The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world" (Pope John XXIII).
  • The Rosary is the compendium of the entire Gospel" (Pope Paul VI quoting Pope Pius XII).
  • Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary . . . can be an excellent preparation for the celebration of those same mysteries in the liturgical actions [i.e. the Mass] and can also become a continuing echo thereof" (Pope Paul VI).
  • How beautiful is the family that recites the Rosary every evening" (Pope John Paul II).
  • Pope John Paul II has called the Rosary his "favorite prayer," after the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.
Key dates

The following table are key dates in the development of the rosary.

  • 4th century prayer rope used by the Desert Fathers to count repetitions of the Jesus Prayer
  • c. 1075 Lady Godiva refers in her will to "the circlet of precious stones which she had threaded on a cord in order that by fingering them one after another she might count her prayers exactly" (Malmesbury, "Gesta Pont.", Rolls Series 311[1]
  • Early to mid 12th century repetition of the Hail Mary prayer (in groups of 50) comes into use as a devotion[1]
  • 1160 St Rosalia is buried with a string of prayer beads[1]
  • 1214 traditional date of the legend of St Dominic's reception of the rosary from the Virgin
  • Mid-13th century word "Rosary" first used (by Thomas of Champitre, in De apibus, ii. 13),[2] not referring to prayer beads but in a Marian context
  • 1268 Reference to guild of "paternosterers" in Paris in "Livre des métiers" of Stephen Boyleau.[1]
  • Early 15th century a Carthusian, Dominic of Prussia, introduces the meditations (mysteries)[3][4]
  • c. 1514 Hail Mary prayer attains its current form.[5]
  • 1569 Pope Pius V established the current form of the original 15 mysteries[6]
  • 1597 first recorded use of term "rosary" to refer to prayer beads.[7]
  • 1917 Our Lady of Fatima is said to ask that the Fatima Prayer be added to the Rosary. She also asks for the Rosary to be said to stop the war, and as part of the Immaculate Heart's reparation. The Fatima Page:
  • 2002 Pope John Paul II introduces the Luminous Mysteries as an option for Roman Catholics[8]


Rosary Beads

A set of Rosary beads contains fifty beads in groups of ten (a decade), with an additional large bead before each decade. Some have been known to have one hundred or one hundred-fifty. These numbers match the number of psalms, or a third or two-thirds of them. Although counting the prayers on a string of beads is customary, the prayers of the Rosary do not actually require a set of beads, but can be said using any type of counting device, by counting on one's fingers, or by counting by oneself without any device at all.

The beads can be made from a wide variety of materials, including wood, bone, glass, crushed flowers, semi-precious stones such as agate, jet, amber, or jasper, or precious materials including coral, rock crystal, gilded silver and gold. In the 19th and early 20th century they are sometimes made from the seeds of the "rosary pea" or "bead tree". Modern beads are most often glass, resin (plastic) or wood. Early rosaries were strung on strong thread, often silk, but modern ones are more often made as a series of chain-linked beads.

It is especially common for beads to be made of material with some special significance, such as jet from the shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela, or olive seeds from the Garden of Gethsemane. Beads are sometimes made to enclose sacred relics, or drops of holy water. A set of blessed Rosary Beads is a sacramental.

In addition to a string of beads the rosary comes in others forms for ease of use. A ring rosary is a finger ring with eleven knobs on it, ten round ones and one crucifix. A rosary bracelet is one with ten beads and often a cross or medal as well. The most modern form are rosary cards. A rosary card is either one with "handle" that moves like a slide rule to count the decade, or it has a whole rosary with bumps similar to Braille.  To learn to use the beads click here: Click the beads when they appear.


The Promises of the Rosary

Click here to view the Promises of the Rosary on the Saint James Website

The Mysteries

The recitation of the Rosary is traditionally dedicated to one of three sets of "Mysteries" to be said in sequence, one per night: the Joyful (sometimes Joyous) Mysteries; the Sorrowful Mysteries; and the Glorious Mysteries. Each of these three sets of Mysteries has within it five different themes to be meditated on, one for each decade of ten Hail Marys. Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 2002), recommended an additional set called the Luminous Mysteries (or the "Mysteries of Light").[8] Catholic faithful who prefer the original fifteen mysteries point to the belief that the Rosary is Mary's Psalter, containing 150 Hail Marys in its body for the 150 Psalms. The Luminous Mysteries make the total 200, but incorporate Christ's ministry.

In addition to meditating upon the events of the mysteries, many people associate certain virtues, or fruits, with each mystery. (The following list of mysteries and the fruits associated with them corresponds to moments in the life, passion, and death of Jesus and Mary's participation in them chronologically.)

Joyful Mysteries Luminous Mysteries Sorrowful Mysteries Glorious Mysteries
(Mon & Sat, and optionally on Sundays during Advent & Christmas seasons) (Thursdays) (Tues, Fri,& optionally on Sundays during Lent) (Wed. & Sun)
The Annunciation Jesus' Baptism Agony in the Garden The Resurrection
The Visitation Wedding at Cana Scourging at the Pillar The Ascension
The Nativity Kingdom of God Crowning with Thorns The Descent of the Holy Spirit
The Presentation Transfiguration Jesus Carrying the Cross The Assumption
The Finding in the Temple Institution of the Eucharist The Crucifixation Coronation of Mary

For more detailed information on these mysteries, please keep reading below:

Joyful Mysteries

  1. The Annunciation. Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
  2. The Visitation. Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor
  3. The Nativity. Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience
  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: Joy in Finding Jesus, also known as Zeal

Luminous Mysteries

  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit
  2. The Wedding at Cana. Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary
  3. Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance and Trust in God
  4. The Transfiguration. Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist. Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration

Sorrowful Mysteries

  1. The Agony in the Garden. Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar. Fruit of the Mystery: Purity
  3. The Crowning with Thorns. Fruit of the Mystery: Courage
  4. The Carrying of the Cross. Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
  5. The Crucifixion. Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance

Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection. Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
  2. The Ascension. Fruit of the Mystery: Hope
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God
  4. The Assumption of Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Happy Death
  5. The Coronation of Blessed Virgin Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in Mary's Intercession

Days of Recitation

Including the Luminous Mysteries

  • The Joyful Mysteries are recited on Mondays and Saturdays.
  • The Luminous Mysteries are recited on Thursdays.
  • The Sorrowful Mysteries, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • The Glorious Mysteries, on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Without the Luminous Mysteries

  • The Joyful Mysteries, on Mondays and Thursdays, and Sundays from Advent to Lent.
  • The Sorrowful Mysteries, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Sundays in Lent until Palm Sunday.
  • The Glorious, on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Easter to Advent.

For those who use the traditional Catholic calendar, the Sorrowful Mysteries are also said on the three pre-Lenten Sundays.



  1. ^ a b c d New Advent CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: The Rosary. Retrieved on 2007-02-10.
  2. ^ Rosary - LoveToKnow 1911. Retrieved on 2007-02-10.
  3. ^
  4. ^ New Advent CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Dominic of Prussia. Retrieved on 2007-02-10.
  5. ^ New Advent CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Hail Mary. Retrieved on 2007-02-10.
  6. ^ CONSUEVERUNT ROMANI Pope Pius V. Retrieved on 2007-02-10.
  7. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary - Rosary. Retrieved on 2007-02-10.
  8. ^ a b Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Retrieved on 2007-02-10.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ New Advent CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Use of Beads at Prayers.
  12. ^


Other Related Sites
The Vatican Link [click here to visit]
The Holy See [click here to visit]
The Holy Rosary [click here to visit]
New Advent [click here to visit]
The Catholic Calendar [click here to visit]
Rosary Introduction [click here to visit]
Rosary Q&A [click here to visit]
Our Lady of the Rosary Library                        [click here to visit]
Marian Apparitions [click here to visit]
More Apparitions [click here to visit]
Approved Apparitons [click here to visit]