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The Rosary

Christmas Rosary designed by
Robyn Stacey/Sacred Heart Rosaries

For Catholics, the rosary is a time-honored prayer that allows meditation on important aspects of Jesus’ life. The rosary is a prayer for Mary’s intercession for us, much like asking your friends to say a prayer for you, to God, our Father. Mary leads all to the Son much in the same way as she did during the wedding feast in Cana when the wedding couple ran out of wine. It was Mary who went to Jesus, and Jesus heard her and granted the miracle of turning water into wine.
Many Catholics are ridiculed by non-Catholic Christians, as well as non-Christians, for the misunderstood idea Catholics worship Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. Catholics honor Mary as the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, Jesus Christ, and ask for her intercession upon our behalf.
The rosary is not a requirement for Catholics to pray, but rather, an optional, yet significant, prayer which helps one spend time concentrating on the life of Jesus. As someone once said, it is like praying the Bible. It brings comfort and peace.
The rosary dates back to Alan de la Roche (1428-1475), a Breton Dominican, who credited St Dominic (d 1221). Yet, some records show the rosary to be even older, as the Countess of Godiva of Coventry (c 1075) left, by will, “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). Beads were also found in the tomb of St Rosalie (1160) and were known throughout the Middle Ages as Paternosters, the Latin for Our Fathers.

The rosary gained great popularity during the 1500s when Moslem Turks were invading Eastern Europe. Constantinople fell to Moslem invaders in 1453. Raids on coastal Italy were commonplace. Pope St. Pius V, while organizing a fleet under the command of Don Juan of Austria, the half brother of King Philip II of Spain, asked the faithful to pray the rosary asking for the Blessed Mother’s prayers, under the title Our Lady of Victory, that our Lord would grant victory to the Christians. The Christian flagship flew a blue banner depicting Christ crucified. On October 7, 1571, the Moslems were defeated at the Battle of Lepanto. As the Venetian Senate recorded the battle, “it was neither courage nor arms nor leaders who won the victory, but Mary of the Rosary, honored under the title of Our Lady of Victory.” The following year, the Pope established the Feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7, where the faithful would not only remember this victory, but also give thanks to the Lord for all of His benefits and remember the powerful intercession of our Blessed Mother. To this day, October 7th is celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Rosary, and the entire month of October is dedicated to the rosary.
The 5 & 15 decade rosary. The smaller 5 decade version most Catholics use now and well known as the “rosary” is also known as the Corona or Crown. However, the original rosary began as 15 decades to include the 15 mysteries. The term rosary, however, was used interchangeably. The name rosary was derived from The Mystical Rose, a name given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Initially, the 15 decades consisted of 150 Our Father prayers which were substituted by those who could not read the 150 Psalms. At some point the Our Fathers became intermixed with Hail Marys.
The Mysteries are biblical themes concerning important events in the life of Jesus and/or Mary. They are:

Joyful Mysteries – Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary she will be the mother of God (Lk 1:26-38), Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-56), Birth of Jesus (Lk 2:1-21), Presentation of Jesus in the temple (Lk 2:22-38), Finding the child Jesus in the temple when he is 12 yrs old (Lk 2:41-52).

Sorrowful Mysteries – Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-56), Scourging at the pillar (Mt 27:26), Crowning with thorns (Mt 27:27-31), Carrying the cross (Mt 27:32), Crucifixion of Jesus (Mt 27:33-56)

Glorious Mysteries – Resurrection of Jesus (Jn 20:1-29), Ascension of Jesus (Lk 24:36-53), Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-41), Assumption of Mary & Coronation of Mary (Rev 12:1-2, 5)
In October 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries or Mysteries of Light. These mysteries are: Baptism of Jesus in the Jordon by John the Baptist (Mt 3:13-16), the Wedding at Cana where Jesus performed His first public miracle of turning water to wine (Jn 2:1-11), the Proclamation of the Kingdom (Mk 1:14-15), the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8), the Establishment of the Eucharist (Mt 26). This set of mysteries is optional when praying the rosary.

Pope Pius XII, as well as the internationally popular Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, spoke of the family rosary. As Father Peyton would say, “The family that prays together stays together.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who’s popular television series, Life is Worth Living, filled homes from 1952 – 1957 and now airs on various Christian cable/satellite networks. Archbishop Sheen said: The Rosary is the book of the blind where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the Rosary is beyond description. St. Padre Pio used to refer to the rosary when dealing with the evils of the world: “Bring me my weapon!”
The rosary begins and ends with making the sign of the cross and consists of these prayers:

  1. The Apostles Creed – The precursor to the Nicene Creed adopted at the Council of Nicea. It is believed to have been declared by the apostles, themselves. This prayer begins the rosary.
    I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day, He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from which He shall come 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.
  2. Our Father – The prayer Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13. Prayed on each single bead between decade beads.
    Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
  3. Hail Mary – 1st part is the words spoken to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel when he came to announce her favor with God, Luke 1:28 . The 2nd part is the words Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, spoke to her upon her arrival, Luke 1:42. The last part is an intercessory prayer to Mary by sinners prior to 1100. Prayed on each bead in each decade group.
    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst 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.
  4. Doxology aka Glory Be – Commonly used doxology in the earliest of Christian times when praying the Psalms. Prayed at the end of each decade.
    Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
  5. Fatima Prayer – The Blessed Virgin Mary gave this prayer to Lucia and her cousins during the Fatima visitation. (this prayer is optional) Prayed at the end of each decade)
    Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.
  6. Hail Holy Queen aka Salve Regina – unknown origin states all that is believed of the Virgin Mary. This prayer ends the rosary.
    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, oh holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
  7. Some finish with this short prayer:
    Oh God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the promises 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.
May God bless you and keep you... Robyn

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Reader Comments  (7)

Indizona Variety
Indizona Variety | August 30th 2011 at 1314739477

Nice blog. It's nice to learn the history.
Lori L. Johnson
Lori L. Johnson | August 30th 2011 at 1314757669

Educational, inspirational, answers. :)
Tuckerstuff | August 31st 2011 at 1314786296

Very nice and inspiring. Thank you.
no photo
BeewitchingItems | August 31st 2011 at 1314806368

Very nice, thank you
Donna's Stuff & More
Donna's Stuff & More | August 31st 2011 at 1314813344

Beautifully written and illustrated. Thank you for sharing your faith. My mother, a Baptist, never missed an episode of Bishop Sheen!
Fredrick Nijm
Fredrick Nijm | August 31st 2011 at 1314827133

Brings me back to the days of Catholic school for me. Thank you for sharing. Very nice and loving post.
buyzjewelry | September 1st 2011 at 1314892621

You really know your history!

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