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The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Latin: rosarium, "rose garden", Spanish:Rosario, English: "rosary"), is a traditional prayer devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, originally inspired by the monastic praying of the 150 Psalms. The Rosary is also prayed by some in the Anglican Communion, most notably Anglo-Catholics, and Lutherans. The Rosary is not a part of Orthodox tradition—among the Orthodox faithful, another form of devotional prayer with a string of 100 beads similar to the Rosary is used, The Jesus Prayer, a penitential prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy "on me, a poor sinner", from the monastic work Philokalia.

The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a compact summation of Christian Catholic doctrine directed toward Almighty God. It begins with the Sign of the Cross, the Apostles' Creed and the Our Father, followed by a prayer combining the Angelic Salutation of Gabriel when he first appeared to Mary to announce the Incarnation, with the declaration of Elizabeth to Mary when she was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb", and a petition to Mary, alive in heaven, to pray for sinners, "now and at the hour of our death", concluding with an Amen and prayer of praise directed to the Holy Trinity, "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."[1] The whole series concludes with a prayer to Mary to look on us with mercy and pray for us to God (intercession), and a final prayer to Almighty God,

"O God, whose Only-begotten Son, by his life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life,[2] grant, we beseech thee, that in meditating upon these mysteries in the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord, amen."
The prayers of the Rosary are concluded with the Sign of the Cross, orienting the whole to salvation in and through Christ Jesus alone.
"In the Rosary is contained in compact form the whole of the Christian doctrine of salvation."[3]

A Rosary also refers to the Rosary implement, which is simply called a Rosary. It is a circular string or chain, usually of fifty-five beads, a "five-decade Rosary", beginning with a pendant crucifix and four additional beads representing one Our Father prayer and three Hail Mary prayers for faith, for hope and for charity, followed by a spacing for the Glory Be prayer, and a single Our Father bead representing the first of the five decades, which is attached to the circlet of five groupings of beads called decades (Latin decade: "ten"), representing five sets of one Our Father prayer and ten groupings of the Hail Mary prayer, each set separated by a space for the Glory Be prayer. The circlet and the pendant of the crucifix with the four introductory prayer beads and a single Our Father bead for the first decade are usually joined together with a small medallion representing Mary in prayer to God bestowing His divine graces on the world, making 59 beads total. The "five-decade Rosary" used three times equals fifteen decades in representation of the 150 Psalms.

A larger "fifteen-decade Rosary" implement is made up of the full number of fifteen decades, sometimes referred to in Spanish terminology as a lasso.[4] Together with the pendant crucifix with four introductory beads and the fifteen Our Father beads with each of the fifteen decades divided by fifteen spaces, the number of Rosary beads in the "full Rosary" lasso totals 169 beads (150 + 15 + 4).

The additional five decades of the Luminous Mysteries, the "Mysteries of Light" promulgated by Pope John Paul II, makes a larger "full Rosary" of twenty decades. A lasso made for the purpose of including these decades as an integral part of the whole would total 224 beads (169 + 55).

The Catholic Church teaches that the words of prayers said absent-mindedly, without intention from the heart, soul, and mind, by merely "going through the motions" indifferently,[5] offering only empty "lip service"[6] with the willful distraction of thinking of other things as more important, without reverence and love in the lifting up of the heart and mind toward God, is a serious sin of irreverence. See Sacrilege and Blasphemy, also Hypocrites and Pharisees.

The charge that devotion to Mary is a form of paganism[7] and the mindless uttering of merely empty "vain repetitions"[8] is regarded by Catholics as utterly absurd, and as part of an ongoing, centuries-old campaign of anti-Catholic Protestant polemic of defamation, unfortunately based on misrepresentations rooted in ignorance of its real meaning and intent. (See Libel and Slander.) David J. Stewart, a popular fundamentalist, states in his widely read column that, "Biblically, Mary was a dirty, rotten, vile, sinner—just like you and me, and everyone else!". And he states emphatically and unequivocally, "The Rosary is evil!"[9]


Most historians[10] trace the origin of the initial form of the Rosary back to the so-called Dark Ages of 9th century Ireland, about the year A.D. 800, when Charlemagne was made Holy Roman Emperor. By pious tradition, the Catholic laity living near monasteries of monks and cloistered convents of nuns, sought to imitate the monastic practice of daily praying the 150 Psalms, which were believed to prophesy the Incarnation of Christ, and his life, passion, death, resurrection and glory for our salvation, and the sufferings and joys of his mother with him from the Annunciation to the Resurrection and the Ascension. However, they found the practice difficult to perform in the midst of the demands of their daily duties and chores, and this was especially so for those who could not read and found memorizing the entire book of the Psalms, the Psalter, almost impossible. To assist their desire to join in with the monks and nuns and priests in their daily praise of God with the prayers of the Psalter, the bishops and priests, their pastors, and the monks, recommended a simple substitute—praying the Lord's Prayer 150 times, because it is the prayer that Jesus himself taught his apostles to pray, and paying close attention to the meaning of the words.

People at first carried 150 pebbles in a small leather pouch or in their pocket. With each devoutly prayed "Our Father" they would take one pebble out, or put one in. However, pebbles can be dropped and lost, so they adopted the use of a thin rope with 150 knots, moving from knot to knot and praying the "Our Father" on each knot until the end. Eventually they found that a string with 150 wooden beads was an easier tool, or implement, to use. This is analogous to singing or playing a long piece of sacred music or a hymn with 150 verses out of love of God. Many churches in worship sing favorite old hymns of prayer and praise again and again, and people at home might recite favorite old poems of faith and devotion again and again. For the same reason, many Christians love personally reciting the 23rd Psalm and the Lord's Prayer frequently through the day, to keep their hearts attuned to the will and love of God.

Soon after the development of this prayer-devotion of the 150 "Our Father"s, others began likewise using the "Angelic Salutation" (Luke 1:28). This was first mentioned as a devotion in Europe by St. Peter Damian, who died in 1072. This initial form of an abbreviated substitute for the chanted prayers of the Psalter was recommended as a devout remembrance of the wondrous, incomprehensible miracle of the Incarnation of God the Son when the angel Gabriel came to Mary in Nazareth and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you".[11] Because Gabriel addressed Mary directly, her name was added to his salutation and said after the initial "Hail".[12] Saying this simple "Angelic Salutation" 150 times for the 150 Psalms of prophesy, with a devout intention of honoring the Incarnation and the mother of Jesus in praise of God, was deemed to be sufficient, because of its profound spiritual meaning within the whole of the mystery of salvation, and because it was uttered by an angel from heaven sent by God, Gabriel himself. He was the same angel who had appeared to the prophet Daniel. The simplest and most ignorant peasant could thus offer up his or her prayer of the heart in union with the official daily prayer of the whole Church to God, using words brought from heaven itself, remembering that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The mouth uttered praise, and the mind was directed to the mystery of the Incarnation and the wonder of our salvation. It is also much shorter than the Our Father, and thus took less time. Many people prayed the "Angelic Salutation" with devotion, while others, equally devout, preferred the "Our Father".

Some medieval theologians of the 13th century, by deep meditation and skillful interpretation of the 150 Psalms saw in them veiled, or allegorical, prophesies about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They began to compose 150 praises of Jesus based on interpretations of the 150 Psalms, and offering them as "Psalters of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". Soon, to honor his mother also, 150 praises of Mary were also composed as "Psalters of Our Lady Mary Mother of Our Lord". A shorter Psalter of 50 Marian praises was commonly called a bouquet of spiritual fragrance, offered from the heart like a bouquet of roses, in Latin a "rosarium". Many mothers receive bouquets of flowers on Mother's Day, and songs are sung in honor of them, in fulfillment of the commandment to "Honor thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12). Defenders of devotion to Mary point out that sons are pleased when their mothers are honored, and that when a woman in the crowd blessed his mother, Jesus the Son of Mary agreed, but he also said, "Yes! Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:28), and they point out that Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, also said, "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord!" (Luke 1:45). Mary herself testified, "Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed!" (Luke 1:48). And they note that Jesus also said, "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matthew 12:50). And to the one who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus included the commandment, "Honor your father and mother" (Matthew 19:19). They conclude that to honor Mary the mother of Jesus is to honor and please Jesus himself, God the Son, who chose Mary and honored her above all others, by making her his own mother and becoming incarnate in her womb, and being obedient to her (Luke 2:51), a unique privilege given to no one else. Because she heard the word of God and kept it, and therefore she certainly did the will of God, they reason that, according to the Bible, by Jesus' own testimony, she is therefore most truly his mother, not only by nature, but by her doing the will of his Father in heaven.

During the same 13th century, then, five Psalters were being used to honor and praise God:

  • The Book of Psalms, the 150 Psalms
  • The 150 Our Fathers
  • The 150 Angelic Salutations
  • The 150 Praises of Jesus
  • The 150 Praises of Mary

The first historical evidence of the Marian rosary is from Saint Dominic (A.D. 1221), who founded the Order of Preachers or Dominicans.[13]

Then about 1375, Henry of Kalkar, the Visitator of the Carthusian Order,[14] divided the 150 Angelic Salutations into fifteen groups of ten, recalling the ten commandments, fifteen decades for the 150 Psalms, beginning each decade with an Our Father first, to orient the prayers more certainly to God the Father and to Jesus the Son who taught it to the twelve apostles.

In the 15th century, about 1409, Dominic the Prussian (another Carthusian), wrote a book attaching a "Psalter" of fifty reflective thoughts, relating the lives of Jesus and his mother Mary to a devotional rosarium of 50 Angelic Salutations, a thought for each one of the fifty. Eventually this Psalter was also divided into five decades. Each decade was introduced by an Our Father, each decade having ten thoughts with ten Angelic Salutations. Because the form was not firmly fixed, very gradually various forms of this meditative prayer-devotion were composed and proposed from about 1425 through 1470. It was roughly during this period that the greeting of Elizabeth was included, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb"; and joined to this was her additional testimony under the influence of the Holy Spirit that Mary is the mother of God, "Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"[15]

When the Dominican Alan of Rupe, Alain de Roche, a disciple of Saint Dominic, founded the first Rosary Confraternity, he also instituted the more modern form of the rosary. With that he launched the Dominican Order as being the foremost of preachers and missionaries of the Rosary, during the Albigensian Crusade in Europe against the Cathars. The form he favored was to refer a special thought for each bead of the Rosary, in preference to a single meditative thought for the whole, which he called the "old" Rosary. The prayer form of 150 special thoughts for the 150 "Hail Mary"s spread rapidly throughout Western Christendom.[16] This form of meditation, with 150 different thoughts, one for each bead, was gradually abandoned as the Christian world transitioned to the Renaissance.

In 1500 for the first time, inexpensive woodblock prints could be made of pictures of the events meditated upon in praying the Rosary. Since the vast majority of the common people were still illiterate these picture rosaries were immensely popular, as a form of directed meditation on the events of our salvation, much easier than attempting to memorize them. But it was difficult and expensive to draw and then print reproductions of 150 different pictures for each of the 150 Hail Marys for each new edition. The ten pictures for each of the ten thoughts in each decade were printed around the words and picture of the Our Father at the beginning of each decade. This was the time of the printing of the Gutenberg Bible and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. It was also the century of the reported 1531 apparition in Mexico of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But gradually, during the 16th and 17th centuries, the use of 150 distinct meditative thoughts gradually died out, and only the 15 brief Our Father thoughts, one for each entire decade of 10 Hail Marys, were printed in the picture rosaries. These fifteen became known as the mysteries of the rosary, because they directly represent the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption in the lives of Jesus and Mary for our salvation. A Christian mystery is a reality that is not against the human understanding, or violates human intelligence, but it also surpasses and is above it.[17]

The Sign of the Cross and the Apostles' Creed were added to the beginning of the rosary by the authority of the Magisterium of the Church, as an affirmation of the fullness of the orthodox and catholic Christian faith and to prevent superstitious abuse of a sacramental.[18] The addition of the Sign of the Cross and the Apostles' Creed along with three Hail Mary prayers, one each for an increase of Faith, an increase of Hope, and an increase of Charity, in the world and in one's own life as a Christian, as a preparatory introduction before beginning the series of 5 or 15 decades, and a "Glory Be" at the end of each decade—

"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."

—and an added conclusive ending with a Salve Regina, "Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy," a prayer crying to her, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ who is mercy from God, as an advocate blessed by God, to look on us with mercy and pray for us to God, and after our deaths to show to us Jesus himself our Savior, and finally ending with a closing prayer to God alone, acknowledging his gift of unmerited salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God:

"O God, Whose only-begotten Son has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, Grant, we beseech thee, that meditating on these mysteries in the most 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".

—these, when prayed with sincere devotion to God and to Mary his handmaiden, achieve by grace the real purpose of prayer: the raising of the heart and mind to God our Savior. The Rosary ends as it begins, with the Sign of the Cross,

"In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

"World without end" is an English translation of the ancient traditional Latin per secula seculorum, more literally, "unto world upon world", "to age after age", meaning "for ever and ever". (Compare Secular.)

During the Easter Season up to Pentecost, the Church prescribes the temporary replacement of the Hail Holy Queen at the end of the recitation of the Rosary with the prayer, Regina Caeli (Latin: "Queen of Heaven"), proclaiming Christ's resurrection,

"Queen of Heaven, rejoice, Alleluia! For He whom you did merit to bear, Alleluia! Has risen as He said, Alleluia! Rejoice and be glad, Virgin Mary, Alleluia! For the Lord has risen indeed, Alleluia!"

This prayer, to be used during the Easter Season, has fallen into general neglect and disuse through the unwitting ignorance of people who are generally unaware of it through lack of being told about it, and who pray the Rosary privately and lead the Rosary in church before or after the Mass. Because they are in the habit of always saying the Hail Holy Queen prayer at the end of the Rosary they say it during the Easter Season too, simply from habit. When another person, better informed about the traditions of the faith, devoutly attempts to advise them to use the Regina Caeli, they either resist the counsel offered and do what they have always done, even if they believe what they have just been told, or they humbly accept it and do what has been more traditionally prescribed by the Church, once they know about it. If the pastor, the priest, is disinclined to correct them, he will advise the individual in favor of praying the Regina Caeli to not be too concerned, and to let the matter rest, to avoid disturbing the people.

Near the end of the 20th century, Pope John Paul II, who was specially devoted to the mother of Jesus to please God, proposed five more decades, which he called the Mysteries of Light, directly related to the mysteries of the ministry of Jesus and the preaching of the Gospel to the multitudes and to his apostles on earth, whom he called and ordained, before his passion and death, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.

This brought the number of decades of the full Rosary to a total of twenty mysteries—when all twenty are prayed at one time, it includes 2 Sign of the Cross (beginning and ending), 1 Apostles' Creed, 21 Our Father, 203 Hail Mary, 21 Glory Be, 1 Hail Holy Queen, and 1 closing prayer petitioning God for the grace to live the mysteries contained in the truths of the Gospel remembered in the Rosary, ending with the sign of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord, the Sign of the Cross. When five decades of the Rosary are prayed at one time (one Rosary), times 4, then the prayers total more—8 Sign of the Cross (4 beginnings, 4 endings), 4 Apostles' Creed, 24 Our Father, 212 Hail Mary (4 times the 3 at each of the beginnings), 24 Glory Be (including the 4 at the ends of the preparatory introductions), 4 Hail Holy Queen, or 4 Regina Caeli, and 4 Grant We Beseech Thee O Lord.

Many Popes, and particularly the Dominicans, have urged the regular recitation of the rosary which means "a crown of roses" as a spiritual bouquet given to the Blessed Mother to please God who chose and elected her. In the Bible both the purpose and the elements of this devotion can be found.

"Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." (Hebrews 13:15)
"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28)
"Behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed." (Luke 1:48)
"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" (Luke 1:42)
"But as he who has called you is holy, so be you holy in all conduct; Because it is written, Be holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
"The holy women who hoped in God." (1 Peter 3:5)
"And every man who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:3)
"Little children, let no man deceive you: he who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." (1 John 3:7)
"And why is this granted unto me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43)
"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30)
"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)
"Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father." (Matthew 13:43)
"And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." (Revelation 12:1)
"His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.' " (John 2:5)
"He is not God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him." (Luke 20:38)
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
"The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. ... My brothers, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." (1 John 5:16 and 20)
"If he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." (2 Maccabees 12:44-45)
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)
The devout prayer of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been recommended to the faithful as a most salutary and beneficial spiritual exercise of the heart, mind and soul.[19]

Vain repetitions

The Catholic Church teaches that an empty recitation of her officially approved prayers, in particular the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, without the effort of deliberately engaging personal intent or attention to and awareness of the meaning of the words, absent-mindedly and without consciously addressing them, as they should be addressed, directly to God or to the saints (see Intercession of the saints), saying them without obedient love and devotion, without meaning them, but instead simply mouthing them, as an empty habit of repetition, while freely thinking about something else entirely, is a serious sin of indifference, even coldly disrespectful contempt for what is sacred and holy as if it has no meaning or dignity, or is unworthy of honor or humble reverence—like ignoring and taking someone for granted as if he or she is no more important than a post or a wall or a piece of furniture—as an empty ritualistic formula and hollow waste of time. Such people are hypocrites. This is why God through the prophet Isaiah said, "This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote." And Jesus himself said, "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me'." (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:7-8.) He also said, "But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7.)[20]

On the basis of these verses many Protestants condemn the repeated recitations of the Hail Mary in the Rosary as being always ipso facto vain repetitions, without taking account of the fact that the inspired biblical text of Psalm 136 repeats the same praise 26 times, and without considering the inward devotion in the heart of the sincerely devout Catholic Christian who says them with reverent love. In the Protestant King James Version of 1 Samuel 16:7b it is written, "man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." The devout Christian who means every word of the prayers of the Rosary does not use vain repetitions.[21][22]

Praying the Rosary

The Rosary is made up of a string of beads and a crucifix. We hold the crucifix in our hands as we pray the Sign of the Cross. Then we pray the Apostles' Creed.

Between the crucifix and the medal of Mary, there is a single bead, followed by a set of three beads and another single bead. We pray the Lord's Prayer as we hold the first single bead and a Hail Mary at each bead in the set of three that follows. Then we pray the Glory Be to the Father. On the next single bead we think about the first mystery and pray the Lord's Prayer. There are five sets of ten beads; each set is called a decade. We pray a Hail Mary on each bead of a decade as we reflect on a particular mystery in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The Glory Be to the Father is prayed at the end of each set. Between sets is a single bead on which we think about one of the mysteries and pray the Lord's Prayer. We end by holding the crucifix in our hands as we pray the Sign of the Cross.[23]

Mysteries of the Rosary

The Joyful Mysteries

Said on Mondays and Saturdays, and Sundays of the Christmas Season.

  • The Annunciation (Humility) Luke 1:26-38
  • The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary, announcing she is to be the Mother of God
  • The Visitation (Charity) Luke 1:39-56
  • Elizabeth greets Mary: "Blessed art Thou amoung women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!"
  • The Nativity (Poverty) Luke 2:1-20
  • The Virgin Mary gives birth to the Redeemer of the World.
  • The Presentation (Obedience) Luke 2:22-39
  • The Blessed Mother presents the Child Jesus in the Temple
  • Finding in the Temple (Piety) Luke 2:42-52
  • The Blessed Mother finds Jesus in the Temple.

The Luminous Mysteries, The Mysteries of Light, as proposed by Pope John Paul II

Said on Thursdays

  • The Baptism of Jesus Matthew 3:13-17
  • When Jesus comes up from the water the heavens open and the Holy Spirit descends on him
  • The Wedding at Cana John 2:1-11
  • Jesus affirms the good of marriage, turns water to wine and manifests his glory
  • The Kingdom of God Matthew 4:17
  • The proclamation of the Gospel, and the call to repentance
  • The Transfiguration Matthew 17:1-8
  • Jesus' face shines like the sun, and his garments become white as light
  • The Eucharist Matthew 26:26-28
  • The institution of the Sacrament and the establishment of the Priesthood

The Sorrowful Mysteries

Said on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Sundays of Lent

  • The Agony in the Garden Luke 22:41-47
  • Jesus prays in agony, an angel appears strengthening him, and his sweat becomes like blood
  • The Scourging at the Pillar John 19:1
  • Pilate tells the crowd he will flog Jesus and let him go, and he has Jesus scourged
  • The Crowning with Thorns Mark 15:16-19
  • The soldiers put a crown of thorns on him and mock him, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
  • The Carrying of the Cross Luke 23:24-32
  • Jesus carries his cross, Simon helps him, Jesus speaks to the women
  • The Crucifixion John 19:17-30
  • Jesus is crucified, gives his mother to John, thirsts, cries out, dies, and is pierced in the side

The Glorious Mysteries

Said on Wednesdays and Sundays of Easter Season and Ordinary Time

  • The Resurrection Matthew 28:1-10
  • The women come to the tomb, the angel tells them he is risen, and Jesus meets them on the way
  • The Ascension Mark 16:19
  • After speaking to them, Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-4
  • On the day of Pentecost, the sound of wind, tongues of fire appeared, and the Holy Spirit descended on them
  • The Assumption of Mary into Heaven Romans 8:29-30
  • Mary whom he predestined, was conformed to the image of Jesus, and glorified, in the twinkling of an eye.[24]
  • The Coronation of Mary and the glory of all the Saints Revelation 12:1
  • A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.[25]

Traditional program of praying the 15-decade rosary

Before the Mysteries of Light proposed by Pope John Paul II, the 15-Decade Rosary (in honor of the 150 Psalms) was prayed as follows:

  • The 5 Joyful Mysteries on Mondays and Thursdays
  • The 5 Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays
  • The 5 Glorious Mysteries on Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • On Sundays of Christmas the 5 Joyful Mysteries
  • On Sundays of Lent the 5 Sorrowful Mysteries
  • On all other Sundays of the year, during Advent and Ordinary Time, the 5 Glorious Mysteries.[26]

The Daily Complete Rosary

Some devotees of this form of prayer and praise of God in honor of Mary recite and meditate once every day on all 15 Mysteries or on all 20 Mysteries (including the Mysteries of Light), which normally takes from 30 to 45 minutes.

The Rosary is comparable and parallel to the Old Testament Psalm 136, which recalls with praises of thanksgiving each of the marvelous works of the Lord and repeats 26 times, "for his mercy endures for ever!"

The Scriptural Rosary

The Medieval practice of associating an individual thought with each Hail Mary as an aid in overcoming distractions in prayer has been reintroduced, using sacred scripture. Beginning the latter half of the 20th century, books and booklets have been published presenting individual texts from the Bible itself for each Hail Mary. These are called "Scriptural Rosaries". Many of these publications have also recently added the inclusion of fifty Bible texts for the decades of the Luminous Mysteries introduced by Pope St. John Paul II.[27]

Rosary in Latin

The Madonna of the Rosary by Miguel Cabrera.

The rosary in Latin is as follows:[28]

(the Sign of the Cross)

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen

(the Apostles' Creed):

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae. Et in Iesum Christum, Filium eius unicum, Dominum nostrum, qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus, descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis, inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos. Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam aeternam. Amen.

(the Our Father):

PATER NOSTER, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

(the Hail Mary):

AVE MARIA, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

(the Glory Be):

GLORIA PATRI, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

(the Salva Regina, during ordinary time and Lenten Season up to Easter)

SALVE, REGINA, mater misericordiae; vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Evae. Ad Te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia ergo, advocate nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. Et Jesum, beneditum fructum ventris tui, nobis post hosc exsilium ostende. O Clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.

(the Regina Caeli, during Easter Season up to Pentecost, instead of the Salve Regina)

REGINA CAELI, laetare, alleluia, quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia, resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia; ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

(the Deus, cuius Unigenitus)

DEUS, CUIUS UNIGENITUS per vita, mortem et resurrectionem suam nobis salutis aeternae praemia comparavit: concede, quaesumus; ut, haec mysteria sacratissimo beatae Mariae Virginis Rosario recolentes. et imitemur quod continent, et quod promittunt, assequamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

(the Sign of the Cross)

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen

Marian apologetics

The anti-Catholic charge that devotion to Mary and the praying of the Rosary is evil and Satanic, and that during her life Mary the mother of Jesus was a dirty, rotten, vile and filthy sinner,[29] is consistently answered from scripture, reason, and logic by skilled Catholic apologists who claim they are fulfilling the counsel of Peter:

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."[30]

See for example the following sites:

Bibliolatry and Mariolatry

Just as Protestant Christians have been accused of Bibliolatry, the worship of the Bible, of superstitiously putting the Bible in place of Jesus the Lord and Savior and Son of God in their worship, instead of giving all honor and worship to God alone, and carrying it with them as a magical protection against sin and the Devil; so likewise Catholic Christians have been accused of Mariolatry, the worship of Mary, of putting Mary in place of Jesus the Lord and Savior and Son of God in their worship, instead of giving all honor and worship to God alone, and carrying a Rosary with them as a magical protection. And just as Protestant Christians who revere the Bible as Holy ("The Holy Bible, Word of God"), and are grieved at the accusation by non-Christians and atheists that they have made it an idol, a substitute for the only one who alone is Holy—God—so Catholic Christians who revere Mary as Holy ("Holy Mary, mother of God"), are grieved at the accusation by non-Christians and fundamentalists that they have made her an idol, a substitute for the only one who alone is Holy—God—the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.[31]
See for example the following sites:

—"Scripture is sacred not only for the wisdom it teaches, but even more for its close association with the person of the deity who revealed it. ... And it is more than it appears to be: not only is it the word of the Lord, it is the Lord himself, an emanation from His being, a particle of His essence."

Calling Mary "Our life, our sweetness, and our hope"

After "Mother of God" and "Queen of Heaven", one of the most criticized titles given to Mary, "Our life, our sweetness, and our hope", is condemned as evidential proof that she has been exalted by the Catholic Church as a goddess and the only savior of sinners, in place of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, utterly ignoring him, he who is himself our sole unique source of eternal life, the sweet consolation of doomed sinners who repent and take him as Lord and Savior, and the only hope of Christians for redemption from sin, and salvation from death and the fires of hell. Catholic apologists say this title is falsely misrepresented as being blasphemy and pagan idolatry, and that it is constantly being distorted as to its true intent and meaning as part of an ongoing, centuries-old, Reformation-based campaign of polemic against the Catholic Church.

Reverend Edward Looney, a Catholic priest and apologist explains the meaning of this title:[33]

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His Mother, who was chosen by the Eternal Father to be the mother of His Son, was granted certain privileges in her life which allowed her to become the mother of all the living. The privileges granted to Mary allow her to rightly be called our life, our sweetness and our hope. By means of Mary, the Life, par excellence, was brought into the world, allowing all Christians the opportunity to participate in the Divine Life offered by God. Mary is an instrument who leads Christians to the one who is the source of all Life—Jesus; Mary also leads Christians to the sweetness of unity with her Son, and finally, Christians are able to find their ultimate hope fulfilled in Jesus Christ; all is possible through the mediation of Mary. As the celestial moon, Mary reflects Christ, bringing all Christians to the source of all life, sweetness, and hope—He who is the Sun, Jesus Christ.

Mediation is frequently confused with intercession, and the two terms are often erroneously regarded as synonyms as here, and more generally in standard thesauruses.[34] In the Bible St. Paul says

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.
(1 Timothy 2:1-3 KJV [35])

St. Paul says in the same place

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
(1 Timothy 2:5-6 KJV [36])
Romans says
the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.... Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.[37]
Both the Holy Spirit and Jesus are intercessors. Hebrews says
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.[38]
There is no contradiction here with Paul's exhorting of others, Christians, mere human beings, to make intercession for all men. Clearly, their intercession does not imply rejection of Christ as intercessor and mediator between God and men. And that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, as he told the Sadducees, "He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him." Luke 20:38. All of this is taken by Catholic apologists as scriptural support of the doctrine that Mary is alive in heaven interceding for us as an intercessory mediator with and in Jesus Christ to God.

Protestant Christians, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and others object to the Catholic and Orthodox doctrine of the intercession of the saints because they take intercession to be the same as mediation. Catholics doctrinally understand the mediatory ministry of Mary to be subordinate to Christ's mediation, her intercession for us on our behalf to Jesus her son and Lord.[39]


  1. "world without end" is from the Latin secula seculorum, and simply means "forever". Some updated versions of the Rosary say, "is now, and will be forever".
  2. "rewards of eternal life". See Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:14; 2:11-22; also Matthew 5:12; 10:41-42; 16:27; Romans 2:10; Colossians 2:18; 3:24; Hebrews 12:28; 2 John 8; see verses referring to Christ's sacrifice on the Cross as meriting for us our unmerited salvation as the free gift of God, Romans 5:15-18; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Ephesians 4:7; Hebrews 6:4-6.
  3. St. Louis de Montfort. See External links below: Quotes about the Rosary from Our Lady, Popes and Saints.
  4. "a lasso". Not only because of its physical form, but in reference to devoutly capturing souls for Christ and the Kingdom of God by prayer, and "rounding them up" in the gathering of the flock of the Church.
  5. What the Bible calls "vain repetition"—also called "rattling them off" as a mechanically repeated dead habit having no significant meaning, empty of content.
  6. "lip service" in condemned in Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8; Mark 7:6.
  7. Some Christian fundamentalists insist that the Catholic Rosary is a demonic practice borrowed directly from pagan Hindus and Moslems, and that the title Queen of Heaven refers directly and only to Babylonian Ishtar and Phoenician Astarte and Egyptian Isis instead of Mary, because the title is found in Jeremiah 44:15-28 together with the burning of incense, and that this is proof that Catholics and Orthodox have substituted Mary/Istar/Astarte/Isis in place of the Son of God, Jesus, having thereby committed Apostasy from true Christianity. See Great Apostasy and ''The Two Babylons''
    See the general article Roman Catholicism: Pagan or Christian? (, a critique of Catholic doctrines. Contains the argument that devotion to Mary makes of her a separate pagan goddess.
    It should be noted that no Catholic is ever taught or told that the name of Mary actually refers to Isis, Ishtar, Astarte, Diana, Artemis, Hera, Juno, Gaia, or to any pagan mother goddess, or that they are to regard her as the sole source of saving grace apart from Jesus Christ, but to regard Mary herself, a real woman, blessed by God, as his most perfect servant and his beloved mother. Catholics utterly reject as absurd the notion that the devotion to Mary addressed to her is the same as the worship of adoration (Latin latria), to be offered entirely separate and apart from devotion to her Son Jesus Christ in the Father with the Holy Spirit, one God.
  8. KJV "vain repetitions", or "heaping up empty phrases" (RSV), Matthew 6:7-8.
  9. Catholic Mary is Nothing! By David J. Stewart (jesus-is-savior)
  10. The main source of information for this History section on the history of the development of the Rosary is
    Catholic Encyclopedia - The Rosary (,
    Britannica Encyclopedia - Rosary: Religion,
    and The Scriptural Rosary: A Modern Version of the Way the Rosary was Once Prayed Throughout Western Europe in the Late Middle Ages. Copyright 1961 Christianica Center, Copyright renewed 1989 Christianica Center, Christianica (America) 1807 Prairie Street, P.O. Box 685, Glenview, IL 60025, "Historic Background of the Scriptural Rosary" pp.9-15.
  11. Luke 1:28
  12. See "hail" definition (
  13. Rosary - History. Colin B. Donovan (
  14. A visitator is an authorized representative of a religious order who makes tours of inspection, to encourage and when necessary to correct the lives of the memberships and leaderships of the various individual congregations,
  15. "mother of my Lord." Luke 1:43. Here, and throughout the New Testament, the word "Lord" means "God"—Greek Κύριος Kyrios "Lord" = God.
  16. In Eastern Christendom, among the Orthodox faithful, another form of prayer with a string of beads became widespread, The Jesus Prayer from the Philokalia. This particular repeated devotional-prayer of petition, also using an implement of (usually) 100 beads similar but not identical in form to the western Rosary implement, says, "'Oh, my Lord Jesus Christ, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner." Hindus and Moslems have copied this form of prayer-tool also using beads of varying numbers up to 99 or more.
  17. There are many things in science too which are known, but which have not been fully explained, and remain mysterious. See for example 10 Unsolved Mysteries of Science and Gravitation.
  18. "superstitious abuse of a sacramental". The added emphasis on orienting the recitation of the Rosary to orthodox Christian doctrine in the Sign of the Cross and the Apostles' Creed at the very beginning of the prayer, was pastorally mandated as a counter to any tendency on the part of ignorant people to turn it into a superstitious talisman divorced and separated from God, the uttering of magical words, apart from Christ and the Church, and to remind them of the faith in God they should always profess and give witness to. A sacramental is devotional practice or a religious object blessed in the name of God, officially approved by the Magisterium which predisposes the individual who uses it properly to live a life of grace, as does reverent Bible-reading and other acts of piety.
  19. Catholic Prayers - St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church (
  20. Catholic apologists point out that Jesus is referring to the Gentiles, "heathen", who prayed (literally "heaped up empty words") to pagan gods, totally unrelated to the one true God. They also point out that according to Catholic theology Mary is not a goddess, and that no Catholic doctrine teaches that she is, but that now that she is in heaven she is one with her Son in the Father and the Father in him and that she prays for us through him alone, also partaking of his divinity (2 Peter 1:3-4). Compare Matthew 22:29-32; Acts 17:28; John 17:22-24.
  21. Why You Should Pray the Rosary Daily: 15 Reasons Straight From Our Lady ( Answer to the objection, "It's boring." Such an objection is equivalent to saying, "Bible-reading is boring", "Church is boring", "Christianity is boring". See Entertainment and Indifference.
  22. 10 Great Tips to Help You PRAY Not Just SAY the Rosary (
  23. Praying the Rosary - Loyola Press (
  24. See 1 Corinthians 15:42-55; Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11
  25. See Daniel 12:3 and Psalm 45:10-17 and Matthew 13:43; also Judith 15:9-10
  26. Rosary Center & Confraternity: How to Pray the Rosary (
  27. A very popular one has been The Scriptural Rosary: A Modern Version of the Way the Rosary was Once Prayed Throughout Western Europe in the Late Middle Ages. Copyright 1961 Christianica Center, Copyright renewed 1989 Christianica Center, Christianica (America) 1807 Prairie Street, P.O. Box 685, Glenview, IL 60025, updated 1989.
    This is not the only published form of the "scriptural rosary". And a personal version can be composed by any individual for personal use from any version of the Bible.
  28. Prayers of the Rosary in Latin (
  29. Catholic Mary is Nothing! By David J. Stewart (jesus-is-savior)
  30. 1 Peter 3:15-16 King James Version.
  31. Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8-11; 15:4.
  32. Compare 1 Samuel 16:7b "for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."
  33. Calling Mary Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope, by Fr. Edward Looney, in Featured, Live in Christ - Catholic Lane (
  34. See the following:
    mediation synonyms - Power Thesaurus (
    intercession synonyms - Power Thesaurus (
  35. See also Jeremiah 7:16; 36:25; Romans 8:26-27; 11:2
  36. See also Isaiah 53:12; Romans 8:34 Galatians 3:19-20; Hebrews 7:25; 8:6; 9:15; 12:24
  37. Romans 8:26-27 and 34
  38. Hebrews 7:25
  39. Mary, Mediatrix, Published on April 9, 2005 by Saint John Paul II in Papal Excerpts - Mother of All Peoples de Maria Numquam Satis Amoris ( "Mary’s maternal mediation does not obscure the unique and perfect mediation of Christ. "

External links

The following sequence of external links corresponds to the sequence of information as presented in the main article.