The Holy Rosary



The Rosary is a continuation of the tradition found in many religions of using strings of beads to aid in prayer and meditation.  This particularly Christian form consists of either five groups of ten beads (most common) or fifteen groups of ten beads (often called the “complete” Rosary).  The former form is most common, probably due to the fact that it is less bulky, easier to manage, and easier to transport.  The five-decade form merely requires repeating the cycle three times.  The Rosary with which we are most familiar was probably created by the Dominican Order in the thirteenth century.



A Private Devotion:

While in fact the use of the Rosary is varied according to the needs of the individuals involved, the basic pattern of the devotion again probably originated with the Dominicans. Essentially saying the rosary involves two levels of prayer, vocal and mental.  The vocal portion of the prayers consists essentially of the Pater Noster (the Lord’s Prayer), the Ave Maria (the Hail Mary), and the Gloria Patri (The Glory Be).  The mental portion of the process generally consists of the meditations on the fifteen mysteries that have traditionally been divided into three sets (The Sorrowful, Joyful, and Glorious mysteries) of five topics each.  In 2002 Pope John Paul II added the fourth set of mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries.  While most of the mysteries represent historical events in the life of our Lord or the Blessed Mother, there are variations based on scripture, and some individuals prefer to focus on their personal concerns and prayers. Interestingly, there is no “required” form for saying the Holy Rosary.  It is essentially a private devotion and may be easily adapted to the personal needs of the individual.  It is often said by family and church groups and less frequently in public worship.



The popularity of the Holy Rosary may be attributed in part to tits effectiveness.  Science has demonstrated the calming and focusing effect of repetitive acts, even to the point of lowering blood pressure.  The repetition of the prayers in the Holy Rosary help the individual to shut out the distractions of the world and focus on the needs of the soul.  This focusing tool allows us to center our thoughts on God and our relationship with him.  In the fast-paced, confusing world in which we live, it is easy to see why the Holy Rosary has maintained its popularity as a prayer tool for Christians.





A Note On The Ave Maria Prayer:

Individuals who come from a non-Catholic background are often hesitant about the text of the Hail Mary prayer.  In fact, the prayer is quite innocuous once you understand its meaning. The prayer begins with the scriptural greeting by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary (Lk. 1:28) and the words spoken to Mary by her cousin, Elizabeth (Lk. 1:42).  In the second part, Mary is referred to as the “Mother of God.”  This is a reference to the fact that for Christians, Jesus is both man and God (Lk. 1:43).  Finally, the prayer asks the Holy Mother to pray for us “now and at the hour of our death” in acknowledgement of our belief in the communion of the saints.  Thus the prayer reads;  

“Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen”


One simple way of saying the Holy Rosary takes the following form for each group of Mysteries:

1 – While you hold the crucifix, make the sign of the cross and say the Apostles’ Creed.

2 – On the first single bead, say the Lord’s Prayer

3 – While asking for an increase in faith, hope, and charity, say the Hail Mary on the next three small beads.

4 – Say the Gloria Patri on the next single bead.

5 – Call to mind the first Rosary Mystery and say the Lord’s Prayer on the medal.

6 – While meditating on the mystery, say the Hail Mary on each of the ten small beads of the group (decade).

7 – On the next single bead, recite the Gloria Patri.

8 – For each succeeding decade of beads, meditate on the next mystery while reciting the Ave Maria for each bead and the Gloria Patri on the single beads.

9 – When the fifth mystery in the group is completed, conclude your prayers with the Salve, Regina or the Magnificat and the Sign of the Cross.


Pray the Rosary