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The Rosary (from Latin rosarium, meaning "rose garden") or "garland of roses" is a popular and traditional Roman Catholic devotion. The term denotes both a set of prayer beads and the devotional prayer itself, which combines vocal (or silent) prayer and meditation. The prayers consist of repeated sequences of the Lord's Prayer followed by ten prayings of the Hail Mary and a single praying of "Glory Be to the Father"; each of these sequences is known as a decade. The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which are events in the lives of Jesus Christ and his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The traditional 15 Mysteries of the Rosary were standardized, based on the long-standing custom, by Pope St. Pius V in the 16th century. The mysteries are grouped into three sets: the joyful mysteries, the sorrowful mysteries, and the glorious mysteries. In 2002, Pope John Paul II announced five new optional mysteries, the luminous mysteries, bringing the total number of mysteries to 20.

The term has come to be used to refer to similar beads in other religions.

Theological relevance

The rosary is part of the Catholic veneration of Mary, which has been promoted by numerous popes, especially Leo XIII, known as "The Rosary Pope", who issued twelve encyclicals and five apostolic letters on the rosary and added the invocation Queen of the most Holy Rosary to the Litany of Loreto. Pope Pius V introduced the rosary into the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, celebrated on October 7. Most recently, on May 3, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Rosary is experiencing a new springtime: "It is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother." To Benedict XVI, the rosary is a meditation on all important moments of salvation history. Before him, Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae built on the "total Marian devotion" pioneered by Saint Louis de Montfort. Pope Pius XII and his successors actively promoted the veneration of the Virgin in Lourdesmarker and Fatima, which is credited with a new resurgence of the rosary within the Catholic Church.

The theologian Romano Guardini defined the Roman Catholic emphasis on the rosary as “participation in the life of Mary, whose focus was Christ”. His statement echoed the view that in Roman Catholic Mariology the path to Christ is through Mary, with Mariology being inherent in Christology; a sentiment also expressed by saints such as Louis de Montfort who was a strong rosary advocate.Pope Leo XIII also viewed the rosary as a vital means to participate in the life of Mary and to find the way to Christ (see the section on Rosary Pope below).

Many similar prayer practices exist in other Christian communities, each with its own set of prescribed prayers and its own form of prayer beads, such as the prayer rope in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. These other devotions and their associated beads are usually referred to as "chaplets." The rosary is sometimes used by other Christians, especially in the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Church, and also by some Lutherans. Evangelical Protestants, however, Baptists and Presbyterians do not use it and actively discourage their members from using this method of prayer.


There are differing views on the history of the rosary. According to tradition, the rosary was given to Saint Dominic in an apparition by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1214 in the church of Prouille. This Marian apparition received the title of Our Lady of the Rosary. In the 15th century Saint Alanus de Rupe (aka Alain de la Roche or Saint Alan of the Rock), who was a learned Dominican priest and theologian, received a vision from Jesus about the urgency of reinstating the rosary as a form of prayer as His Blessed Mother had requested. St. Alanus de Rupe also received the Blessed Mother's "15 Promises". Saint Alan is responsible for having many rosary confraturnites. Before his death on Sept. 8, 1475 and through his devotion to the Blessed Mother, he reinstituted the rosary in many countries just as Jesus had requested. Before St. Dominic and St. Alan, however, most scholarly research suggests a more gradual and organic development of the rosary.

Prayers with beads like the rosary may have begun as a practice by the laity to imitate the monastic Liturgy of the Hours, during the course of which the monks prayed the 150 Psalms daily. As many of the laity and even lay monastics could not read, they substituted 150 repetitions of the Our Father (Pater noster in Latin) for the Psalms, sometimes using a cord with knots on it to keep an accurate count. During the middle ages, evidence suggests that both the Our Father and the Hail Mary were recited with prayer beads. In the 7th century, Saint Eligius wrote of using a counting device to keep track of the 150 Hail Marys of the Psalter of Mary. In 13th century Parismarker, four trade guilds existed of prayer bead makers, who were referred to as paternosterers, and the beads were referred to as paternosters, suggesting a continued link between the Our Father (Pater noster in Latin) and the prayer beads. In the 12th century, the rule of the English anchorites, the Ancrene Wisse, specified how groups of 50 Hail Marys were to be broken into five decades of ten Hail Marys each. Gradually, the Hail Mary came to replace the Our Father as the prayer most associated with beads. Eventually, each decade came to be preceded by an Our Father, which further mirrored the structure of the monastic Divine Office.

The practice of meditation during the praying of the Hail Marys is attributed to Dominic of Prussia (1382-1460), a Carthusian monk, who called it "Life of Jesus Rosary" The Germanmarker monk from Triermarker added a sentence to each of the 50 Hail Marys already popular at his time, using quotes from scriptures. Promoted by his superior Adolf von Essen and others, his practice became popular among Benedictines and Carthusians from Trier to adjoining Belgiummarker and Francemarker, where it was greatly promoted by the preaching of the Dominican priest Alan de Rupe, who helped to spread the devotion in Francemarker, Flanders, and the Netherlandsmarker between 1460 and his death in 1475. From the 16th to the early 20th century, the structure of the rosary remained essentially unchanged. There were 15 mysteries, one for each of the 15 decades. In the 20th century the addition of the Fatima Prayer to the end of each decade became popular. After Vatican Council II, Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, architect of the liturgical reform, proposed further changes to the structure of the Rosary, but Pope Paul VI refused to implement the proposal on the grounds that changing such a well-established and popular devotion would unsettle the piety of the faithful and show a lack of reverence for an ancient practice. There were thus no other changes until 2002 when John Paul II instituted five optional new Luminous Mysteries.

Since the 17th century, the Rosary began to appear as an element in key pieces of Roman Catholic Marian art, often in art that depicts the Virgin Mary. Key examples include Murrillo's Madonna with the Rosary at the Museo del Pradomarker in Spain, and the statute of Madonna with Rosary at the church of San Nazaro Maggioremarker in Milan. Several Roman Catholic Marian churches around the world have also been named after the rosary, e.g. Our Lady of the Rosary Basilica, in Rosario Argentinamarker, the Rosary Basilicamarker in Lourdesmarker and Nossa Senhora do Rosário in Porto Alegremarker, Brazilmarker.

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
  • In the 7th century, St. Eligius (c.588-660) wrote of making a chair adorned with 150 gold and silver nails to aid in the praying of the Psalter of Blessed Mary, which substituted one Hail Mary for each of the Psalms.
  • In the early 8th century, Venerable Bede (d. 733) attests that churches and public places in France and England had prayer beads available for the faithful to use.
  • 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)
  • A rule for anchorites in mid-12th century England gives directions on how 50 Hail Marys are to be said divided into sets of ten, with prostrations and other marks of reverence.
  • It is recorded in 12th century Mary-legends (Marien-legenden) that a certain Eulalia was told to pray five decades slowly and devoutly instead of 15 decades in a hurry.
  • It is recorded by a contemporary biographer that St. Aibert, who died in 1140, recited 150 Hail Marys daily, 100 with genuflexions and 50 with prostrations.
  • 1160 Saint Rosalia is buried with a string of prayer beads
  • 1214 traditional date of the legend of Saint Dominic's reception of the rosary from the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Rosary
  • It is recorded of St. Louis of France (1214-70) that "without counting his other prayers the holy King knelt down every evening 50 times and each time he stood upright then knelt again and repeated slowly an Ave Maria."
  • Mid-13th century word "Rosary" first used (by Thomas of Champitre, in De apibus, ii. 13), not referring to prayer beads but in a Marian context.
  • 1268 A reference to guild of "paternosterers" in Paris in "Livre des métiers" of Stephen Boyleau.
  • Early 15th century, Dominic of Prussia, a Carthusian, introduces 50 mysteries, one for each Ave Maria
  • c. 1514 Hail Mary prayer attains its current form.
  • 1569 Pope Pius V established the current form of the original 15 mysteries
  • 1587 A Book on the Rosary entitled Rosario della Sacratissima Vergine Maria by Ven. Luis de Granada is published in Italian, which uses a similar method to the fourth method of the five methods of praying the rosary by St. Louis-Marie de Montfort.
  • 1603 Tractatus de Rosario de B. Virginis Mariae by Francisco Arias is published
  • 1597 first recorded use of the term "rosary" to refer to prayer beads.
  • 1917 Our Lady of Fatima is said to ask that the Fatima Prayer be added to the Rosary. Her visionaries state that she also asks for the Rosary to be said to stop the war, and as part of the Immaculate Heart's reparation.
  • 1974 Pope Paul VI issues the Apostolic Letter Marialis Cultus which devotes 14 sections to the use of the rosary within the Roman Catholic Church.
  • 2002 Pope John Paul II introduces the Luminous Mysteries as an option for Roman Catholics in an Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

Rosary beads

The rosary provides a physical method of keeping track of the number of Hail Marys said. The fingers are moved along the beads as the prayers are recited. By not having to keep track of the count mentally, the mind is more able to meditate on the mysteries. A five decade rosary contains five groups of ten beads (a decade), with additional large beads before each decade. The Hail Mary is said on the ten beads within a decade, while the Our Father is said on the large bead before each decade. A new mystery is meditated upon at each of the large beads. Some rosaries, particularly those used by religious orders, contain 15 decades, corresponding to the traditional 15 mysteries of the rosary. Both five and 15 decade rosaries are attached to a shorter strand, which starts with a crucifix followed by one large, three small, and one large beads before connecting to the rest of the rosary. The praying of the rosary is started on the short strand, reciting the Apostle's Creed at the crucifix, an Our Father at the first large bead, three Hail Marys on the next three beads, then a Glory be to the Father on the next large bead. The praying of the decades then follows. 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. Since the beginning of the 21st century, some people have begun to pray the rosary on their iPods or by watching rosary meditations on Youtube or other websites.

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, crystal, silver, and gold. Rosaries are sometimes made from the seeds of the "rosary pea" or "bead tree". Today, the vast majority of rosary beads are made of glass, 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. Our Lady's Rosary Makers produce some 7 million rosaries annually that are distributed to those in economic and spiritual need. "Our Lady's Rosary Makers" website. . Access date: 15 May 2008.

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 Compostelamarker, or olive seeds from the Garden of Gethsemanemarker. 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 other 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 is the rosary card. A rosary card is either one with a "handle" that moves like a slide rule to count the decade, or it has a whole rosary with bumps similar to Braille.

Rosary beads for other prayers

Rosary beads are at times used to say Roman Catholic rosary based prayers which do not primarily involve the Hail Mary and the mysteries of the rosary. Examples include the Chaplet of Divine Mercy introduced by Saint Faustina Kowalska and the Rosary of the Holy Wounds introduced by the Venerable Sister Mary Martha Chambon. These prayers often use rosary beads, but their words and format do not correspond to the usual mysteries. Both Saint Faustina Kowalska and the Venerable Sister Mary Martha Chambon attributed these prayers to Jesus as part of their visions of Jesus Christ.


The praying of the Rosary is traditionally dedicated to one of three sets of "Mysteries" to be said in sequence, one per day: 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"). Catholic faithful who prefer the original 15 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.Various other "mysteries" exist; in the German-speaking countries a fifth set of mysteries has been popular since the 1920s, the so-called "Comforting Mysteries", which have an eschatological dimension, meditating Christ as Universal King.

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

  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 (poor in spirit), Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of Riches, Love of the Poor
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: Purity, Obedience
  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: True Wisdom and True Conversion, Piety, Joy of Finding Jesus

Luminous Mysteries

  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit-the Healer.
  2. The Wedding at Cana. Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary. The understanding of the ability to manifest-through faith.
  3. Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Fruit of the Mystery: 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

Crucifixion and rosary
  1. The Agony in the Garden. Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin, Uniformity with the will of God
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar. Fruit of the Mystery: Mortification, Purity
  3. The Crowning with Thorns. Fruit of the Mystery: Contempt of the world, Courage
  4. The Carrying of the Cross. Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
  5. The Crucifixion. Fruit of the Mystery: Salvation, Forgiveness

Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection. Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
  2. The Ascension. Fruit of the Mystery: Hope and desire for ascension to Heaven
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Mystery: Holy Wisdom to know the truth and share with everyone, Divine Charity, Worship of the Holy Spirit
  4. The Assumption of Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Happy Death and True Devotion towards Mary
  5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance and Crown of Glory, Trust in Mary's Intercession

Days of praying

! Day of praying!! With the Luminous Mysteries !! Without the Luminous Mysteries
| Sunday || The Glorious Mysteries ||
Advent: The Joyful Mysteries
Lentto Palm Sunday: The Sorrowful Mysteries
Ordinary Time, Easterto Sunday before Advent: The Glorious Mysteries
| Monday  || The Joyful Mysteries || The Joyful Mysteries
| Tuesday || The Sorrowful Mysteries || The Sorrowful Mysteries
| Wednesday || The Glorious Mysteries || The Glorious Mysteries
| Thursday || The Luminous Mysteries || The Joyful Mysteries
| Friday || The Sorrowful Mysteries || The Sorrowful Mysteries
| Saturday || The Joyful Mysteries || The Glorious Mysteries

Approved form

  • A sign of the cross on the Crucifix and then the Apostles' Creed;
  • An Our Father on the first large bead;
  • A Hail Mary on each of the three small beads with the following intentions (the theological virtues):
    1. For the increase of faith
    2. For the increase of hope
    3. For the increase of charity
  • A Glory Be to the Father;
  • Announce the mystery
  • An "Our Father" on the large bead
  • A "Hail Mary" on each of the adjacent ten small beads;
  • A "Glory Be to the Father";
  • Again an Our Father on the next large bead, followed by ten Hail Marys on the small beads, the Glory Be to the Father, (and Fatima Prayer, cf. below) for each of the following decades;
  • In conclusion, Hail Holy Queen and a sign of the cross.

Common pious additions

Many people add a praying of the Fatima Decade Prayerat the end of each Decade. Others add a praying of a pious Eucharisticprayer "O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine" at the end of each decade in honor of Jesusin the Blessed Sacrament. In the practice of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, they have an additional decade for the intentions of the students or the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A pious German custom is to insert a phrase in the middle of each Hail Mary (after "... blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus ... "), which refers to the specific mystery being meditated upon.This custom was incorporated into St. Louis de Montfort's second method out of his five Methods of Praying the Rosary.

In the practice of the Dominican Order, the opening prayers of the rosary mirror the opening of the Divine Office:

  1. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
  2. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
  3. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
  4. O Lord, open my lips.
  5. And my mouth will proclaim your praise.
  6. Incline your aid to me, O God.
  7. O Lord, make haste to help me.
  8. Glory 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. Alleluia. ("Alleluia" omitted during Lent.)

Rosary as a family prayer

Many Catholics pray the rosary on their own, or on special occasions like the removal of the Nativity Scene, mourningafter a funeral, etc. But the rosary is also an old family prayer. This specific family devotion has been supported by several popes including Pope Pius XIIin his encyclical Ingruentium Malorum:

The custom of the family praying of the Holy Rosary is a most efficacious means.
What a sweet sight - most pleasing to God - when, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent repetition of praises in honor of the High Queen of Heaven!
Then the Rosary, recited in the family, assembled before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work.
It unites them piously with those absent and those dead.
It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace.

Rosary and Scapular

"The Rosary and the Scapular are inseparable" were words attributed to the Virgin Mary by Lucia Santos, one of the three children who reported the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima in 1917 and later the Pontevedra apparitions in 1925, both in Portugalmarker.In these apparitions, the Virgin Mary reportedly called herself The Lady of the Rosaryand in one of the final Fátima appearances on October 13, 1917 had a Brown Scapularin one hand and a Rosary in the other. The Lady of the Rosary, reportedly encouraged the praying of the Rosary and the wearing of the Brown scapular.

Throughout history, the Rosary and the Scapularas Roman CatholicSacramentalsfor devotionsand prayers have been supported, encouraged and linked by a number of Catholic figures such as popes, saints and cardinals and specific promisesand indulgenceshave been associated with them.

The Rosary is well known as a Marian devotion, and although the Scapular may have initially started as a Christocentric devotion, by the end of the Middle Ages it had taken on a Marian tone, to the extent that the Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages called it "one of the main Marian devotions of Christendom" and it has continued to be a key Marian devotion. Scholarly debates about the exact date of the first appearance of either the Rosary or the Scapular have continued decades. However, historical records clearly indicate that devotions to both Sacramentalsfollowed specific historical stages which included initial pre-Reformation introductions, promotion and growth as a response to the challenges of the Reformation.

Following their joint growth in the 18th and 19th centuries, by the early 20th century the Rosary and the devotional Scapular had gained such a strong following among Catholics worldwide that the Catholic Encyclopediaof 1914 stated: "Like the Rosary, the Brown Scapular has become the badge of the devout Catholic." In the mid 20th century, the United States "Scapular Magazine" helped enroll one million Americans to pray the Rosary based on the Our Lady of Fatimamessages. The Rosary and the devotional scapular continue to be linked in the 21st century.

Rosary in Marian apparitions

The need to pray the rosary and its power has been reported in Marian apparitionsfor centuries. As a recent example, in the reported messages of Our Lady of Akita, Sister Agnes Sasagawastated that in 1973 she was told by the Virgin Mary: "Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary.I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach." In 1988 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) gave definitive judgement on Our Lady of Akitamessages as reliable and worthy of belief.

The rosary was also prominently featured in the Lourdes apparitionsin 1858, where Saint Bernadette Soubirousstated that in the initial meeting of Our Lady of Lourdes: "The Lady took the rosary that she held in her hands and she made the sign of the cross".

The apparitions of Our Lady of Fátimaare sometimes also called Our Lady of the Rosarybecause the children related that the Lady in the apparition specifically identified Herself as "the Lady of the Rosary." The three children at Our Lady of Fátimastated that the Lady asked them to say the Rosary every day, reiterating many times that the Rosary was the key to personal and world peace. She had also asked that it be prayed every day, and that its mysteries be meditated on.

The Rosary Pope

One of the forces that drove the spread of the rosary during the 19th century among Roman Catholics was the influence of the Rosary Pope, a title given to Pope Leo XIII(1878-1903) because he issued a record twelve encyclicalsand five Apostolic Letters on the rosary, instituted the Catholic custom of daily rosary prayer during the month of October, and in 1883 added the invocation Queen of the most Holy Rosaryto the Litany of Loreto.

Leo XIII, the Rosary Pope, explained the importance of the rosary as the one road to God, from the father to the Son, to his Mother, and from her to the human race. He emphasized that no human creature can change this and therefore there exists only one road for the faithful, to the mother and from her to Christ and through Christ to the father. The rosary is a vital means to participate in the life of Mary and to find the way to Christ. This emphasis on the path through Mary to Christ(which was also a basis for some of Louis de Montfort's writings) has since been a key direction in Roman Catholic Mariology, with Mariologybeing viewed as inherent in Christology, and the rosary paving that path.

Single-decade rosaries

An alternative design.

Englandmarker and Irelandmarker were severed from Rome under Henry VIII by 1540.In Ireland, where separate allegiance to Rome still existed, severe legal penaltieswere prescribed against practicing Roman Catholics. Small, easily hidden rosaries were used to avoid identification. Sometimes rather than a cross, other symbols of specific meanings were used:
  • Hammer: nails of the cross;
  • Nails: crucifixion;
  • Spear: wound;
  • Halo: crown of thorns;
  • Cords: scourging;
  • Chalice: Last Supper;
  • Rooster: crowing/resurrection.

These rosaries, especially the smaller ring-type, have since become known as soldiers' rosaries, because they were often taken into battle by soldiers, most notably during WWI. These single-decade rosary variations can be worn as a ring or carried easily and are still popular. A rosary ring is a ring worn around the finger with 10 indentations and a cross on the surface, representing one decade of a rosary. This is often worn as jewelry, and used through the day. Some ring rosaries use a small bearing on the inside of the ring to permit easy turning. A finger rosary is similar to a ring, but is a bit larger. Rosaries like these are used by either rotating or just holding them between a finger and thumb while praying. A hand rosary is a decade in a complete loop, with one bead separated from ten other beads, this is meant to be carried while walking or running, so as not to entangle the larger type. Credit card-sized Rosaries have also appeared, especially among members of militaries, where holes or bumps represent the prayers and the persons praying move their fingers along the bumps to count prayers.

Single-decade rosaries are also called chaplets.

Wearing of the Rosary

Wearing of a Rosary that one actually uses to pray is neither uncommon nor sacrilegious in various Roman Catholic-adherent cultures and was a common practice in the Medievaland Renaissanceperiods, particularly among religious (monks, nuns, and friars). Rosaries are also worn hanging from or looped over a belt, particularly with some religious habits, pinned to and hanging from a shoulder or neckline, or wrapped around a wrist or arm as a bracelet. Some Christians feel that it is sacrilegious for a non-believer to wear a rosary around the neck. This is particularly true in Roman Catholic cultures that have histories of persecution, particularly among the Irish and English Catholics. Because Irish Catholic tradition is often seen as normative in the United States and Canada, this has been the source of some conflict in the past. The Roman Catholic Church states: "Sacred objects, set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made over to secular or inappropriate use, even though they may belong to private persons". Thus it is acceptable to wear a rosary if one is doing so to show veneration, however it is not acceptable if one is wearing the rosary irreverently, such as wearing it as a piece of jewelry. Many saints have worn their rosary around the neck, and in the Secret of the Rosary, it is mentioned that a person put his rosary around his neck to keep devils away from him.

Rosaries or rosary-like necklaces are often worn for non-religious purposes as a fashion or jewelry item, and are sold in different variations in popular jewelry and clothing stores. Such ornamental use, especially the wearing of a rosary around the neck, was heavily popularized by singer Madonnain the early 1980s and has experienced a come-back in recent years. Wearing a rosary around the neck can be considered disrespectful if the person wearing it does not affiliate with the Christian religion. Ornate or medieval-style rosary sets are occasionally featured in gothfashion.

As penance or reparation

Praying the rosary may be prescribed by priests as a form of penanceafter confession. Penance in this form is not generally intended as a "punishment"; rather, it is meant to encourage reflection upon and spiritual growth from past sins.

Some forms of the Roman Catholic rosary are aimed at reparation for the sins of others. An example is the Rosary of the Holy Wounds first introduced at the beginning of the 20th century by the Venerable Sister Mary Martha Chambon, a Roman Catholic nun of the Monastery of the Visitation Order in Chamberymarker, Francemarker.This rosary is somewhat similar in structure to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, is said on the usual rosary beads and is intended as an Act of Reparation to Jesus Christfor the sins of the world.

Power of the Rosary

Saint Anthony with a rosary
The rosary has been featured in the writings of Roman Catholic figures from saintsto popesand continues to be mentioned in reported Marian apparitions, with a number of promises attributed to the power of the rosary.

As early as the 15th century, legendalleged that through Saint Dominicand BlessedAlan de Rupethe Blessed Virgin Marymade 15 specific promises to Christians who pray the rosary.The Fifteen rosary promisesrange from protection from misfortune to meriting a high degree of glory in heaven. In support of this statement Patrick Cardinal Hayes of New Yorkmarker provided his imprimatur to this effect.

In the 18th century, the French priest Louis de Montfortelaborated on the importance of the rosary and its power in his widely read book the Secret of the Rosary. He emphasized the power of the rosaryand provided specific instructions on how it should be prayed, e.g. with attention, devotionand modesty (reverence),with reflective pauses between the beads and smaller pauses between phrases of the prayers.

Rosary manufacturing and distribution

Rosaries are in rare cases made of expensive materials from goldand silverto mother of pearland Swarovskiblack diamond designs. Yet most rosaries used in the world today for praying are made of simple plasticor wooden beads connected by cords or strings. Roman Catholic missionaries in Africahave reported that rosaries made of tree barkhave been used there for praying for the lack of conventional rosaries. It is widely reported that the demand for rosaries in third world countries far outweighs the supply.

Plastic beads are inexpensive to make, but not easy to assemble. Hence the major cost component for making simple rosaries is the assembly effort. A large number of inexpensive rosary beads are manufactured in the Asia, specially in Chinamarker and Taiwanmarker, although Italymarker has a strong manufacturing presence in moderate cost and high end rosaries.

Assembled rosaries are often purchased as retail religious items. Yet literally hundreds of millions of rosaries have been made and distributed free of charge by Roman Catholic volunteers worldwide. A number of rosary making clubs exist around the world for the purpose of making and distributing rosaries to missions, hospitals, prisons, etc. free of charge. The largest such non-profit organization in the United States is Our Lady's Rosary Makerswhose 17,000 members annually distribute roughly 7 million free rosaries. Many other volunteer-based clubs and groups exist worldwide and distribute tens of millions of free rosaries every year.

Churches named for the Rosary

Gallery of Rosary in Marian art

The rosary has been featured in a number of works of Roman Catholic Marian artand rosary statutes appear in many Roman Catholic Marian churches. Mary is often depcited as offering the Rosary to St Dominic, and occasionally St Catherine of Siena also receives it.

Image:Madonnadelrosario Nicola Porta.jpg|Madonna and rosary by Nicola PortaImage:Guido Reni 057.jpg|Madonna with rosary, by Guido Reni, 1596Image:Maria Anger - Seitenaltar 2.jpg|Madonna offering Saint Dominic rosary by August Palme, 1860Image:Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo 020.jpg|Madonna with the Rosary by Murillo, 1650Image:545px-Madonna del Rosario formiello - particolare.JPG|Madonna of the Rosary statute, Naples, ItalymarkerImage:N-s-dos-passos-14.jpg|Rosary Madonna, Porto Alegremarker, BrazilImage:Rosary-Madonna-Atzwang.jpg|Madonna with Rosary, ItalyImage:Rosary-Madonna-Mersa.jpg|Madonna with Rosary by Josef Mersa, ItalyImage:PATERNOSTER-3.jpg|Saint Dominicreceiving the rosary

See also


  1. "Rosary." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. 03 May. 2008.
  2. "Rosary". Wedgewood, Hensleigh. A Dictionary of English Etymology. 2nd ed. London: Trubner & Co., 1872. pg 544.
  3. rosary - definition of rosary by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia
  5. Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae
  6. Heinz, 555
  7. A Heinz, Rosenkranz, Marienlexikon, Eos, St.Ottilien, 1993, 555
  8. Mariology Is Christology in Vittorio Messori, "The Mary Hypothesis" Rome, 2005
  9. Louis de Montfort, in God Alone
  10. Encyclical Jucunda Semper 8.9.1894 quoted in Marienlexikon,Eos St. Ottilien, 1988 42
  11. Catherine Beebe, St. Dominic and the Rosary ISBN 0898705185
  12. O'Reilly, Bernard. True Men as We Need Them: A Book of Instruction for Men in the World. New York: P.J. Kennedy and Sons. (1878) p. 217.
  13. McNicholas, J.T. "Alanus de Rupe". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907.
  16. New Advent CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Hail Mary
  17. Mysteries of the life of
  19. Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Letter Marialis Cultus
  20. Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 087973910X
  21. Michael Freze, 1993, Voices, Visions, and Apparitions, OSV Publishing ISBN 087973454X
  22. St. Louis-Marie de Montfort explains this correlation
  23. St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, Methods for saying the rosary, first and third method
  24. Rosary Prayers in German
  25. Rosary Prayers in Several Languages
  26. Methods for Saying the Rosary
  27. Ingruentium Marlorum 13
  28. Lynette Marie Ordaz, 2008, The Real Mary, Authorhouse Books, ISBN 9781434343321 page 88
  29. Thomas W. Petrisk, 1998, The Fatima Prophecies, St. Andrews Press, ISBN 9781891903304 page 345
  30. Lucia Santos, 1976, Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, Ravengate Press ISBN 0911218106
  31. Vatican website for Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina [1]
  32. Thomas Petrisko, 2000, Inside Heaven and Hell, St. Andrews Press ISBN 9781891903236 page 105
  33. Pope John Paul II, 1996, Gift And Mystery, Doubleday Books ISBN 9780385409667 page 28
  34. Andre Vauchez, 2001, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Fitzroy Dearborn Press ISBN 9781579582821 page 1314
  35. EWTN on the History of the Brown Scapular [2]
  36. Richard Copsey, 1999, Simon Stock and the Scapular Vision, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 50:4:652-683
  37. Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., The Carmelite Scapular, "The Month", Vol. 150, 1927, pp. 323-237
  38. Henry Charles Lea, 2002, A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church, Adamant Media Corp. ISBN 1402161085 page 498
  39. Mark Forster, 2001, Catholic Revival in the Age of the Baroque Cambridge Univ Press ISBN 0521780446 page 145
  40. Catholic Encyclopedia
  41. Eli Lederhendler, 2006 Jews, Catholics, and the Burden of History Oxford University Press ISBN 0195304918 page 98
  42. Zenit News 2008 Cardinal Urges Devotion to Rosary and Scapular
  43. EWTN on Akita apparitions
  44. in Lauretanische Litanei, Marienlexikon, Eos, St. Ottilien, 1988, p.41
  45. At the center of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary. As the loving Mother of the Redeemer, she was the first to experience it: "To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator"! Pope John Paul II, in Redemptoris Mater, 51
  46. See Pius XII Mystici corporis Christi; John Henry Newman: Mariology is always christocentric, in Michael Testa, Mary: The Virgin Mary in the Life and Writings of John Henry Newman 2001; Mariology Is Christology in Vittorio Messori, "The Mary Hypothesis" Rome, 2005
  47. Quick Questions (This Rock: October 2004)
  48. Michael Freze, 1993, Voices, Visions, and Apparitions, OSV Publishing ISBN 087973454X
  49. Dominican Fathers on the Rosary
  51. Rosary promises
  52. Saint Louis de Montfort
  53. De Montfort, St. Louis-Marie. Secret of the Rosary, Forty-Fourth Rose (paragraph 127)
  54. Writings of Saint Louis de Montfort

Further reading

  • Beads and Prayers: The Rosary in History and Devotion by John D Miller, Continuum, 2001, ISBN O860123200.
  • Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy: A Consideration of the Rosary by J. Neville Ward (Doubleday, 1973); revised as Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy: Meditations on the Rosary (Seabury Classics, 2005) - an ecumenical Methodist minister's book on the Rosary. ISBN 1596280123
  • Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows, Friar Servants of Mary, Chicago, Illinois, 1990.
  • "Stories of the Rose: The Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages" by Anne Winston-Allen (1997, Pennsylvania State University Press) - the most current source in English on the history and development of the Rosary in its earliest years. ISBN 0-2710-1631-0
  • The Lourdes Pilgrim, by Oliver Todd, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 41.
  • God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie De Montfort, by Saint Louis de Montfort, Montfort Publications, 1995 ISBN 0910984557
  • Pope Pius XII Rosary encyclical Ingruentium Malorum on the Vatican website
  • Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultus, To Honour Mary, 2 February 1974.
  • Pope John Paul II Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae on the Vatican website

External links

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