The Rosary is one of the most well-known prayers of the Church. Even if you have never prayed the Rosary you have most likely heard of it, and there is a good chance you have at least heard it being prayed. The Rosary is often prayed publicly before Mass or at gatherings such as prayer vigils. Many of the saints and popes strongly recommended it, and even apparitions of the Blessed Mother have urged us to pray the Rosary more often.
Praying the Rosary every day and reflecting on the Mysteries assigned to that day help us to contemplate the Gospels and the life of Jesus regularly, and this helps us to more fully live the Gospel in our lives each day.
History of the Rosary
The Rosary developed over several centuries from the beads that monks used to pray through the Psalms into what we know as the Rosary today. The current form of the Rosary is often attributed to St. Dominic, although it is more likely that he simply played a part in spreading the devotion. For a more thorough look at the development of the Rosary, check out this article on EWTN.
What Popes and Saints Have Said About the Rosary
“Take up the Rosary once again”
~Pope John Paul II
“There is no surer means of calling down God’s blessing upon the family than the daily recitation of the Rosary.”
~Pope Pius XII
“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”
“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.”
~Saint Francis de Sales
“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”
~Saint Louis de Montfort
“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.”
~Saint Padre Pio
How to Pray the Rosary
The Rosary can be complicated to learn. Most of the prayers of the Rosary are Our Fathers, Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be’s but you also need to be familiar with the Creed, the Fatima Prayer, The Salve Regina, and the Memorare. Knowing all of these prayers and remembering in what order to pray them can be tricky.
There is a fantastic resource over at Rosary Army (now under the umbrella of the New Evangelizers ministry) that gives you a one-page printout with all of prayers and a diagram showing when to pray each. That printout can be found by clicking the following link:
How to Pray the Rosary Printout.
In short, the prayers of the Rosary are as follows (click links to jump to prayer text):
1. Sign of the Cross
2. Apostle’s Creed
3. Our Father
4. Three Hail Marys
5. Glory Be
6. Fatima Prayer
7. Five decades, each including an Our Father, ten Hail Marys, a Glory Be, and, if desired, the Fatima Prayer.
8. Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina)
9. “O God, Whose…”
10. Prayers for the Pope: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
12. Sign of the Cross
Where to Get a Rosary
It is not absolutely necessary to own a Rosary in order to pray the Rosary. Anything that helps you to count out the ten Hail Mary’s in each decade with be useful (in fact, the only Catholic pick-up line that ever worked on my now-wife was “I forgot my Rosary, can I borrow your fingers?”). Even so, it isn’t too difficult to find an inexpensive or free Rosary. I recommend going over to Rosary Army once again and they will send you a beautiful all-twine knotted Rosary at no cost. If you already have a Rosary, consider donating to Rosary Army to help them sustain their ministry of giving them out.
Order a Rosary from Rosary Army
Donate to Rosary Army/New Evangelizers
There are many other styles of Rosaries, from those made with gem stones to those made with wood and even with compressed rose petals. A few other examples are shown below (click the pictures for more information on each Rosary).
The Mysteries of the Rosary
The Rosary is a prayer that brings us into deep reflection of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The first few times I prayed the Rosary I didn’t really understand this. It took a while for me to become comfortable with the structure of the Rosary before I could really enter into deeper reflection and contemplation.
When I was comfortable with the prayers of the Rosary I began to dig deeper into the “Mysteries” of the Rosary. The Mysteries are actually reflections that accompany each decade of the Rosary. There are four sets of Mysteries, and each set contains five Mysteries for a total of twenty Mysteries.
The Mysteries help us to focus on a specific moment in Christ’s life and ministry, and they offer us lessons that we can apply to our faith.
Each set of Mysteries comes with a recommended schedule of which days of the week to pray them, as most recently laid out by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. While it is not mandatory to follow this schedule or to even pray the Rosary with these Mysteries in mind, it certainly is helpful in contemplating the gospels and praying in communion with the entire Church.
Let’s take a look at the Mysteries of the Rosary:
The Joyful Mysteries
A reflection on the birth and childhood of Christ, the Joyful Mysteries take us from the angel visiting Mary in the garden through the finding of Jesus in the temple. The joyful Mysteries are suggested to be prayed on Mondays and Saturdays.
This Mystery is based on Luke 1: 26-38, which describes the angel appearing to Mary to tell her that she will be with child.
Isaiah 7: 10-14 also lends to meditation on this mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate humility.
This Mystery is based on Luke 1: 39-45 where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth. Much of the “Hail Mary” prayer comes from this passage.
Isaiah 40: 1-11 and John 1: 19-23 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate charity.
This Mystery is based on Matthew 2: 1-12 and Luke 2: 1-20 where the birth of Jesus is described.
Micah 5: 1-4 and Galatians 4:1 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate poverty.
This Mystery is based on Luke 2: 22-35 where Jesus is presented to the Lord by Joseph and Mary in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Hebrews 9: 6-14 also lends to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate obedience.
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
This Mystery is based on Luke 2: 41-52 where Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple listening to and talking with the teachers and He asks them “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?”
John 12: 44-50 and 1 Corinthians 2: 6-16 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate piety.
The Luminous Mysteries
The newest set of Mysteries is called the Luminous Mysteries. These were suggested by Pope John Paul II in Rosarium Virginis Mariae in 2002. They cover the ministry of Jesus, from His baptism through the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Luminous Mysteries are prayer on Thursdays.
The Baptism in the Jordan
This Mystery is based on Matthew 3: 13-17, Mark 1: 9-11, Luke 3: 21-22, and John 1: 29-34 in which Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate commitment.
The Wedding at Cana
This Mystery is based on John 2: 3-10.
John 13: 14-15; Luke 6: 27-28, 37; Luke 9: 23; and John 15:12 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate fidelity.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
This Mystery is based on Mark 1: 14-15 and Luke 4: 18-19, 21.
Matthew 5: 38-39, 43-44; Matthe 6: 19-21; Matthew 7: 12; and Matthew 10: 8 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate conversion.
This Mystery is based on Matthew 17: 1-8 and Luke 9: 30-33.
Matthew 5: 14, 16; John 1: 4-5, 18; and 2 Corinthians 3: 18 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate promise.
The Institution of the Eucharist
This Mystery is based on Luke 22: 14-20
John 13: 1; Matthew 26: 18; Matthew 5: 14, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 11: 26; John 17: 20-21; and 1 Corinthians 12: 13, 26-27 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate grace.
The Sorrowful Mysteries
A reflection on the death of Jesus, from the agony in the garden through the crucifixion, the Sorrrowful Mysteries are prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The Agony in the Garden
This Mystery is based on Matthew 26: 36-46; Mark 14: 26-42; Luke 22: 39-53; and John 18: 1-12.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate repentance.
The Scourging at the Pillar
This Mystery is based on Matthew 27: 15-26.
Mark 15: 1-15 and Isaiah 50: 5-9 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate purity.
The Crowning of Thorns
This Mystery is based on Matthew 27: 27-31, Mark 15: 16-19, and John 19: 1-6.
Luke 23: 6-11; Matthew 16: 24-28; and Isaiah 52: 13-53: 10 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate courage.
The Carrying of the Cross
This Mystery is based on Luke 23: 26-32.
Mark 8: 31-38; Matthew 16: 20-25; John 19: 17-22; and Philippians 2: 6-11 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate patience.
This Mystery is based on Mark 15: 33-39; Luke 23: 33-46; and John 19: 23-37.
Acts 22: 22-24 and Hebrews 9: 11-14 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate self-renunciation.
The Glorious Mysteries
These Mysteries are a reflection on Jesus defeating sin and death. The glorious Mysteries are prayed on Sundays and Wednesdays.
This Mystery is based on Matthew 28: 1-10; Mark 16:1-18; Luke 24: 1-12; and John 20: 1-10.
Romans 6: 1-14 and 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate faith.
This Mystery is based on Luke 24: 44-53 and Matthew 28: 16- 20.
Acts 1: 1-11 and Ephesians 2: 4-7 also lend to meditation on this Mystery.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate hope.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles
This Mystery is based on John 14: 15-21; Acts 2: 1-11, 4:23-31; 11: 15-18.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate love.
The Assumption of Mary
This Mystery reflects on John 11: 17-27; 1 Corinthians 15: 20-28, 42-57; and Revelation 21: 1-6.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate eternal happiness.
The Coronation of Mary
This Mystery reflects on Matthew 5: 1-12; 2 Peter 3: 10; and Revelation 7: 1-4, 9-12; 21: 1-6.
Reflecting on this Mystery prompts us to contemplate Marian devotion.
Reflecting on the Mysteries While Praying
There is a lot going on while praying the Rosary. Knowing the prayers, keeping track of the order to pray each prayer, praying the prayers wholeheartedly, and meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary can be quite a task. Bringing all of these moving parts together into a prayer of quiet and contemplation simply takes time and practice.
One way to increase the meditative atmosphere of the Rosary is to pray a scriptural Rosary. This involves reading a relevant verse from scripture relating to the current Mystery before each Hail Mary in the decade. This makes the praying of the Rosary more time-consuming, but you will find the true meaning of each Mystery and you will achieve a much deeper appreciation for each Mystery through this method of praying, which will help you ability to contemplate the Mysteries while praying the Rosary regularly.
You can find an audio recording of a Scriptural Rosary for each set of Mysteries at Rosary Army, and you can find it in print form at the Catholic Company.
Click Here for Audio Recordings of the Rosary and the Scriptural Rosary.
Click Here for a Print Version of the Scriptural Rosary.
The Prayers of the Rosary
Sign of the Cross
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead . He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He shall 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, 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 read, 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, 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 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.”
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls into Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”
Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina)
“Hail, Holy Queen, mother of mercy; 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 vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward 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. Amen.”
O God, Whose…
“O God, whose only-begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating upon these Mysteries of 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.”
Remember oh most Blessed Virgin Mary that never was it known, that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto thee, oh virgin of virgins, our Mother. To you do we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful. Oh mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer them. Amen.