The Rosary


(During the explanation, please refer to the diagram below. The individual prayers referred to in the explanation can be found at the end of the article.)






The word Rosary has two main meanings. One meaning refers to the physical object, which is comprised of a string of beads, a medal, and a Cross. The other main meaning is the prayer for which it is used. One does not need the object itself in order to say the prayer of the Rosary, but the beads serve as wonderful a guide. Furthermore, the Rosary as a physical object is a sacred object, whose presence in one's home or pocket is in a certain sense a constant prayer being said to God through Our Lady.



When we pray the Rosary, we start with the Cross, say a prayer, then move on to the first bead and say a prayer, then we move to the second bead and say a prayer, and we continue in this manner until all of the beads have been covered. (It probably does not matter whether we go from left to right, or from right to left.)


The basic prayer itself is simple: The Rosary consists of a Cross, a medal (M), individual beads (@), and consecutive beads (o). For the Cross, we pray the "Apostles' Creed"; for the individual beads (@), the "Our Father"; and for the consecutive beads (o), the "Hail Mary." There are also additional prayers, some of which correspond to the medal (M); these shall be discussed below.


The Rosary can be divided into two parts: the Introduction, and five decades. The Introduction consists of the Cross and the four beads that follow it, which together mean the "Apostles' Creed," one "Our Father," and three "Hail Mary's." The five decades each consist of one individual bead (@) and ten consecutive beads (o), that is, of one "Our Father", and ten "Hail Mary's".


Each decade is devoted to a particular event in the life of the Virgin Mary or of Jesus. These are called the Mysteries. Either before or after praying the decade, we should meditate on these Mysteries with a view to reaching a greater love of God.


Since there are five decades in the Rosary, and there is one Mystery corresponding to each decade, there are five corresponding Mysteries for each Rosary we pray. These five Mysteries, however, are not always the same. In fact there are three sets of five Mysteries. They are: (1) the Joyful Mysteries, (2) the Sorrowful Mysteries, and (3) the Glorious Mysteries.


These Mysteries are the following:

(It is recommended that one pray each set of Mysteries on the days of the week indicated. This is, however, merely a recommendation.)


The Joyful Mysteries:

(Mon and Thu; and the Sun's from 1st Sun of Advent until Lent.)


The Sorrowful Mysteries:

(Tue and Fri; and the Sun's of Lent.)

The Agony of Christ in the Garden

The Scourging at the Pillar

The Crowning with Thorns

The Carrying of the Cross

The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord


Glorious Mysteries:

(Wed and Sat; and the Sun's from Easter until Advent.)

The Resurrection of Our Lord

The Ascension of Our Lord

The Coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles

The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

The Coronation of the Virgin Mary


If one prays the Joyful Mysteries, the first decade will correspond to the Annunciation, the second decade to the Visitation, the third to the Birth of Our Lord, the fourth to the Presentation at the Temple, and the fifth to the Finding in the Temple.


If one prays the Sorrowful Mysteries, the first decade will correspond to the Agony of Christ in the Garden, the second to Scourging of Christ, the third to the Crowning with Thorns, the fourth to the Carrying of the Cross, and the Fifth to the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.


If one prays the Glorious Mysteries, the first decade will correspond to the Resurrection of Our Lord, the second to the Ascension of Our Lord, the third to the Coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, the fourth to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and the fifth to the Coronation of the Virgin Mary.


Now we can look at how this is all put together. There are actually two major methods for praying the Rosary. I will cover both. The first method seems to be the more widespread in the United States, whereas the second one appears to be the European custom. Both are accepted methods; however, it should be kept in mind that indulgences given for praying the Rosary may require that we pray it according to the local custom. (There are bound to be people in every Parish who know what the local custom is.)


The First Method: (See the diagram for the meaning of symbols.)


Kiss the Cross and make the sign of the Cross to start.


The Introduction:

At the:

Top of the Cross - say the "Apostles' Creed"

@ - "Our Father"

o - "Hail Mary for each of the three beads."



The First Mystery:


@ - State the First Mystery,

- state prayer intention on this Mystery,

- then "Our Father."

o - "Hail Mary" for each of the ten beads,

- after the 10th, say "Glory Be" and "O my Jesus."


The Second Mystery:

@ - State the Second Mystery,

- state prayer intention on this Mystery,

- then "Our Father."

o - "Hail Mary" for each of the ten beads,

- after the 10th, say "Glory Be" and "O my Jesus."


The Third Mystery:

@ - State the Third Mystery,

- state prayer intention on this Mystery,

- then "Our Father."

o - "Hail Mary" for each of the ten beads,

- after the 10th, say "Glory Be" and "O my Jesus."


The Fourth Mystery:

@ - State the Fourth Mystery,

- state prayer intention on this Mystery,

- then "Our Father."

o - "Hail Mary" for each of the ten beads,

- after the 10th, say "Glory Be" and "O my Jesus."



The Fifth Mystery:

@ - State the Fifth Mystery,

- state prayer intention on this Mystery,

- then "Our Father."

o - "Hail Mary" for each of the ten beads,

- after the 10th, say "Glory Be" and "O my Jesus."



At the end of the five Mysteries pray at least one concluding prayer. (These prayers can be said on the Medal.) There is no set concluding prayer to pray. The usual prayer in the United States and Australia appears to be the "Hail, Holy Queen." But other prayers, like the "Memorare of St. Bernard," can be used as well. (Some others can be found at the end of this article.)


To conclude, make the Sign of the Cross, and kiss the Cross on the Rosary.



The Second Method:


This method is the same as the first one, with one major exception. Here the Mysteries are not announced before each decade but are inserted into every Hail Mary. This is done in the following manner:


"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the

Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

[The Mystery is stated.]

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen"


The advantage of this method is that this way the Mystery is stated ten times during the decade, and not just once before it. Thus, it is easier to keep in mind the Mystery to which the decade is dedicated, and it is easier to reflect on it while praying the decade.


In the second method, every "Hail Mary" has a Mystery inserted in the middle, even the three "Hail Mary's" in the Introduction.


The Mysteries are phrased with a view to incorporating them into the "Hail Mary." They are the following:


The First Three Mysteries of the Introduction:

Who increases our faith.

Who strengthens our hope.

Who perfects our love.


The Joyful Mysteries:

Whom you conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Whom you carried in your womb, visiting St. Elizabeth.

Who was born of you in Bethlehem.

Whom you presented in the Temple.

Whom you found in the Temple.


The Sorrowful Mysteries:

Who sweated blood for us sinners.

Who was scourged for us sinners.

Who was crowned with thorns for us sinners.

Who carried the cross for us sinners.

Who was crucified for us sinners.


The Glorious Mystery:

Who resurrected from the dead.

Who ascended into Heaven.

Who sent us the Holy Spirit.

Who raised you, Blessed Virgin, up into Heaven.

Who crowned you, Blessed Virgin, in Heaven.


When praying the first decade of Joyful Mysteries according to this method, we insert the first Mystery in the middle of every one of the then "Hail Mary's."


Once again this is done following way:


"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the

Fruit of thy womb, Jesus,

Whom you conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen"


When praying the second decade of the Joyful Mysteries according to this method, we insert the second Mystery in the middle of every one of the ten "Hail Mary's." And every decade is prayed likewise.


Also, the First Three Mysteries of the Introduction correspond to each of the three "Hail Mary's" of the Introduction respectively, and not to the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries. Thus, all three of these of introductory Mysteries are said during each of the three sets of five Mysteries.



The Spirit of Praying the Rosary:


The above is an explanation of the Rosary from a technical standpoint. It is also important to consider the spirit with which we should pray it. The best source for this is The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort, which is available through Tan Publishers. The following description is after the teaching of St. Louis:


When praying the Rosary, we should always keep in mind Our Lady and her desire to help us improve in our love of God, sincerely desiring to deepen our love for God through the Rosary. The individual prayers in the Rosary should be said slowly, either concentrating on the meaning of the words themselves, or meditating on the Mystery of the decade. We should take great care not to allow the praying of the Rosary to become a mere habit, done fast and without much attention. A Rosary said that way will have almost no benefit for us. However, when we pray the Rosary with great care and genuine devotion to Our Lady, it will be enormously beneficial.


As mentioned above, we should meditate on each Mystery either before or after praying the decade, pausing for one minute in order to reflect on the Mystery. This should be done even if we mediate on the Mystery while praying the individual prayers.


St. Louis also stresses the importance of stating our petitions so that we know what we are praying for, and so that we respond to Our Lady's desire to grant us more and more graces through the Rosary.



The Prayers:


The Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.


Our Father:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven; hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.


Hail Mary:

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.


Glory Be:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


O my Jesus (from Fatima):

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, bring all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy Mercy. Amen.


Hail, Holy Queen:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

- Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

- That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray: O God, Whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech You, that meditating upon these Mysteries of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.


The Memorare of St. Bernard:

Remember, O most loving Virgin Mary, that never was it known in any age, that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, and sought thy intercession, was abandoned. Inspired with this confidence therefore, we fly to thee, O Blessed Virgin of virgins, our Mother; to thee do we come; before thee we stand sinful and sorrowful. Do not O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise our prayers but, graciously , hear and grant them. Amen.



Other Prayers:


Prayers taken from the Byzantine Catholic Liturgy:


Remembering our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.


O gentle Protectress of Christians, unfailing Mediatrix before the Creator, do not despise the prayerful voices of sinners; but, in your goodness, hasten to assist us, who trustfully cry out to you: "Inspire us to prayer, and hasten to hear our supplication. Intercede always, Mother of God, in behalf of those who honor you."


Mothers cannot be virgins, nor virgins be mothers; but in you, O Mother of God, both virginity and motherhood were present. Therefore, all the people of the earth unceasingly extol you.


Today the Virgin is present in the Church and with the armies of Saints invisibly prays to God for us. The Angels worship with the Archangels and the Apostles rejoice with the Prophets, because in our behalf, the Mother of God prays to the Eternal God.


It is truly right to call you blessed, O Theotokos: you are ever- blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God. Higher in honor than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, you gave birth to God the Word in virginity. You are truly Mother of God: you do we exalt.



The Fifteen Promises of the Virgin Mary to those who recite the Rosary


(Revealed to St. Dominic and Blessed Alan):


Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.


I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.


The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.


It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of people from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.


The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.


Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just, he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.


Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.


Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the Saints in Paradise.


I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.


The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.


You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.


All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.


I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.


All who recite the Rosary are my children, and brothers and sisters of my only Son, Jesus Christ.


Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.


"Say the Rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world." -- Our Lady of Fatima, 1917



The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Our God


(Revealed to St. Margaret Mary)


I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.


I will establish peace in their families.


I will console them in all their afflictions.


They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.


I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.


Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.


Tepid souls shall become fervent.


Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.


I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.


I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.


Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced.


The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.