The prayer of the Rosary is said on a string of beads that help count the number of prayers called “a rosary”. The Holy Rosary is a Marian devotion and the beads represent a crown of roses that are offered to Mary in thanksgiving of her beloved Son, Jesus Christ. However, Mary is not the object of the Rosary. She is our Mother and she takes us by the hand and leads us through the life of Jesus, helping us to meditate upon the important episodes of His life called the Mysteries of the Rosary. “The rosary is my preferred prayer. It is a marvelous prayer, simple but profound. Praying the rosary is nothing but contemplating the face of Christ with Mary.” (Saint John Paul II)
The Rosary is a prayer that is divided into four sections called “Mysteries” or “Chaplets” which are then divided into five episodes.*** Initially there were three sections based on Mary’s Psalter (Psalms), however, in 2002 Pope John Paul II added a fourth section called the Luminous Mysteries. The Rosary gives us the opportunity to look back on the important events of the life of Christ (called Mysteries) and contemplate them just as His Mother did. By letting the prayers penetrate our souls, with the intercession of Mary, we ask the Lord to allow the fruits of the Mysteries blossom within us. This type of prayer is a medley of prayer and meditation (contemplation of the Mysteries). The Mysteries of the Rosary are in parallel with the main events of the life of Our Lord and His Mother in the liturgical year of the Catholic Church.
In addition to meditating upon the mysteries, it is also possible to pray for particular intentions while reciting the Rosary. For example, we can pray a Rosary for peace, for the souls of Purgatory, for vocations, etc.
***Please note that people tend to say “I’m going to pray the Rosary” as they use rosary beads to help count the prayers, when actually they mean “I’m going to pray the Chaplet” as they are only going to recite and meditate one of the four Mysteries which technically is 5 decades of the Rosary and not 20 decades!
The beads of the rosary are arranged in five sets of decades (10 beads) with each decade separated from the next by a larger bead. The two ends of the chaplet are joined by a small string holding a crucifix, two large beads, and three small beads.
Sign of the Cross
The Apostle’s Creed (on the Cross)
One Our Father (on the 1st large bead)
Three Hail Marys (on the 3 small beads)
One Glory Be (on the string before first decade)
Then you announce the name of the Mystery and meditate upon it (Glorious, Sorrowful, Luminous or Sorrowful)
One Our Father (on the large bead)
Ten Hail Marys (on the 10 small beads)
One Glory Be (on the string before next decade)
Optional - “Oh My Jesus” prayer requested by Mary at Fatima
Hail Holy Queen (final prayer after praying on all of the beads)
Then you announce the name of the next Mystery and the next until you have finished praying on all of the beads.
We announce the name of the Mystery at the beginning of the decade (10 small beads). Reading a passage of the Gospel pertaining to the Mystery, or looking at an image representing it helps us to immerse ourselves into the life of Christ and what He was experiencing. While reciting the ten “Hail Marys” we meditate on this mystery. The repetition of the “Hail Marys”, said slowly, helps us to keep our spirit in a state of contemplation. It is like saying “I love you” over and over again. We must be attentive to take our time. It is better to say less prayers than to rush through it. It must be said with love.
The Rosary can be said on any day, everyday, several times a day at any time (sitting quietly, walking, driving etc). However, most of us have very busy schedules and little time to pray an entire Rosary. The different categories of Mysteries correspond to different days of the week, helping to make it easier for each of us to pray. We can then just pray one Mystery per day.
Joyful Mysteries: Monday and Saturday (and Sundays during Advent)
Sorrowful Mysteries: Tuesday and Friday (and Sundays during Lent)
Luminous Mysteries: Thursday
Glorious Mysteries: Wednesday and Sunday
Having the Mysteries assigned to certain days of the week help us enter into a routine of regular practice of the Rosary, which helps nourish our faith even more. There is always something new to contemplate in the Mysteries of the Rosary; it is never the end. It all depends on what is actually happening in our present day life. We can also let the Holy Spirit guide us in what Mystery we need to meditate upon on a certain day.
The month of October is traditionally dedicated and known as the month of the Rosary : Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7th.
There are four types of Mysteries within which 5 events of the life of Christ are meditated upon making up 20 Mysteries all together.
These Mysteries correspond to the birth and infancy of Jesus
1st Joyful Mystery - the Annunciation - we pray for humility and we are invited to say “yes” to the will of God like Mary did.
2nd Joyful Mystery - the Visitation - we pray to be welcoming, charitable and open to others
3rd Joyful Mystery - The Nativity - we pray for a spirit of detachment
4th Joyful Mystery - The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple - we pray for a spirit of obedience and purity
5th Joyful Mystery - Finding Jesus in the Temple - we pray for fervor in finding Jesus in all things
These Mysteries correspond to the Passion of Christ.
1st Sorrowful Mystery - The Agony of Christ in the Garden - we pray for contrition and regretting our sins
2nd Sorrowful Mystery - The Scourging at the Pillar - we pray for control of our senses and our body
3rd Sorrowful Mystery - The Crowning of Thorns - we pray to not be prideful
4th Sorrowful Mystery - The Carrying of the Cross - we pray for patience during difficulties
5th Sorrowful Mystery - The Crucifixion of Jesus - we pray to be more loving and devoted to Christ
These Mysteries evoque the public life of Jesus. They were added to the Rosary by Saint John Paul II.
1st Luminous Mystery - The Baptism of Jesus - We pray to be in the state of grace that we had at our baptism
2nd Luminous Mystery - The Wedding of Cana - We pray for trust in the will of God
3rd Luminous Mystery - The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God - We pray for our continual conversion
4th Luminous Mystery - The Transfiguration - We pray to be more contemplative and the grace for a profound inner life
5th Luminous Mystery - The Institution of the Eucharist - We pray to keep the practice of the Sacraments
These Mysteries evoque the resurrection of Jesus, the Pentecost and the Ascension of Mary.
1st Glorious Mystery - The Resurrection of Jesus - We pray to be more faithful
2nd Glorious Mystery - Jesus’ Ascension - We pray for hope and the desire to go to Heaven
3rd Glorious Mystery - Pentecost - We pray for the Holy Spirit to be in our souls
4th Glorious Mystery - Mary’s Assumption - We pray for a happy death
5th Glorious Mystery - The Crowning of Mary in Heaven - We pray for trust and devotion to Mary
“The Rosary is a prayer that accompanies my everyday life. It is also the prayer for the common man and the saints… It is the prayer of my heart.” (Pope Francis)
“And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” (Matthew 17:2). The evangelical episode of the transfiguration of Christ where the three Apostles Peter, James and John are bewildered by the beauty of the Redeemer, could be considered as an icon of Christian contemplation. Keeping constantly in mind the face of Christ, and his ordinary but painful life and then contemplating His glorious resurrection at the right hand of the Father is the duty of any disciple of Christ, and so it is ours also. “By contemplating His face, we welcome the Mystery of the Trinity whereby we experience again and again the love of the Father and the joy of the Holy Spirit. In this way Saint Paul’s words become reality : ‘And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’ (2 Corinthians 3:18)” (Saint John Paul II)
“The Rosary allows us to contemplate the life of Christ and the most important moments tied to the life of His Mother. It is a magnificent family album. It goes from joy to suffering and finishes with a dazzling light : the Resurrection.” (Father Guy Gilbert)
“Peace, in the human and Christian sense, means that the sense of truth, justice and perfect fraternity between people must penetrate the hearts of everyone to avoid any danger of discord and confusion. This must orient the will of all towards an evangelical doctrine where we contemplate the mysteries and examples of the lives of Jesus and Mary, which is a universal devotion. Each soul must make the effort to perfectly practice the Holy law, a law that guides and regulates the most inner parts of our being and rectifies the actions of each of us, leading us to true peace which is a delicacy for human life and a foretaste of the joys in eternity.” (Saint John XXIII)
“If you want that peace reigns in your families and in your country, pray the rosary everyday with your family : the Rosary is the perfect resume of the Gospel and it gives peace to anyone who prays it... Love the Rosary, pray it everyday.” (Saint Pius X)
Hozana is an on-line platform of prayer for Catholics and Christians worldwide that offers a huge variety of prayer groups called communities. If you don’t want to pray the Rosary alone, join one of the following prayer communities and experience the inner peace by praying with others!
Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima - Come and receive inner peace promised at Fatima by praying the Rosary with others everyday. Each day you will receive a meditation, a prayer or a song in addition to praying the Rosary.
Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes - For nine days you will receive a meditation from St. Bernadette and prayer. Come and present all of your petitions to your Blessed Mother.