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The Mysteries of the Rosary Beads

Author: Lena Santos

For Roman Catholic Christians, the Rosary is a big part of their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a form of prayer that consists of a series of Our Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and Glory Be to the Father. The word Rosary came from the Latin word rosarium, which means rose garden. The term pertains to the repeated prayer as well as to the prayer beads used in the devotion.

The origin of the Rosary has several views, but there is one that has gained more popularity than the rest. Roman Catholic tradition tells that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave the Rosary to St. Dominic in the year 1214 during an apparition in the church of Prouille. Eventually this apparition of the Blessed Mothered was called Our Lady of the Rosary.

The conventional Rosary beads are composed of a crucifix and a total of 59 beads corresponding to the different prayers. The crucifix represents the Apostle’s Creed, which is the first prayer in the series right after the Sign of the Cross. This is followed by one Our Lord’s Prayer, three Hail Mary and one Glory Be to the Father before the main sets of Hail Mary separated into five sets of ten beads each.

Although the Rosary is a sequence of repeated prayers, there are different Mysteries of the Rosary on which each decade of the bead is meditated. These Mysteries represent special events in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ together with His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Traditionally there are 15 Mysteries of the Rosary based on the Roman Catholic customs set by Pope St. Pius V in the 16th century. The mysteries are divided into three groups of five, namely the Joyful mysteries, Sorrowful mysteries and Glorious mysteries, each meditated on specific days of the week. In the year 2002, Pope John Paul II added five more mysteries to the earlier 15 making the total number of Mysteries of the Rosary to 20. The additional five mysteries are collectively called the Luminous mysteries or the Mysteries of Light.

The Joyful mysteries are meditated on every Monday and Saturday. They pertain to the early years in the life of Jesus starting from the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary of her conception of Jesus. The second Joyful mystery is the Visitation in which the Virgin Mary paid her cousin Elizabeth a visit upon learning of her pregnancy. Elizabeth at the time of the Visitation was also pregnant with St. John the Baptist. The third Joyful mystery is the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. This is the story of the first Christmas and a meditation on the journey of Jesus’ parents to a safer place in order to save Him from King Herod. The fourth Joyful mystery is the presentation of the Child Jesus and the final mystery in this set is His Lost and Finding at the temple.

The Sorrowful mysteries meditate on Jesus’ passion and death. Prayed every Tuesday and Friday, this group of Mysteries of the Rosary begins with the Agony in the Garden, which meditates on the night Jesus was praying hard in the Garden of Gethsemane. The second Sorrowful mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar. It is followed by the Carrying of the Cross, the third Sorrowful mystery that remembers the start of Jesus’ journey towards Mt. Calvary where He will be crucified. The fourth Sorrowful mystery is the Crowning with Thorns while the fifth and final mystery is the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.

After meditating on a series of sad yet very important events in the life of Jesus, the faithful shifts to meditating on triumphant events in the life of Our Lord on Wednesdays and Thursdays with the Glorious mysteries. This set starts with the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is followed by the Ascension, which meditates on the event that Jesus went up to heaven. The third Glorious mystery is the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. This mystery pertains to the coming down of tongues of fire from heaven and their descent on the head of Jesus’ apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary where the former were able to speak in different languages. The fourth Glorious mystery is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven and finally, The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

The Mysteries of Light are meditated on every Thursday and commemorates other important events during Jesus’ public ministry. The first mystery in this set is His Baptism in the River Jordan. This is followed by Jesus Manifestation at the Wedding at Cana where He turned water into wine. The third Luminous mystery is Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God with His Call to Conversion. The Fourth Mystery of Light is Jesus’ Transfiguration where He was illuminated on top of a mountain and talked to Moses and Elijah. The final Mystery of Light is Jesus’ Institution of the Eucharist as the sacramental Expression of the Paschal Mystery. This mystery pertains to the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his apostles before His death and resurrection.

The Rosary may be prayed alone, silently or aloud, but it is more commonly said as a group with one leader as the others respond. It may also be meditated with or without the aid of Rosary beads. Our Lord’s Prayer begins each mystery of the Rosary while Glory Be to the Father ends it, followed by the Fatima Prayer. After the meditation on the five mysteries for the day, the Hail Holly Queen is also said and finally, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Suggested Pdf Resources

How to recite the Holy Rosary
How To Pray the Rosary
On the next single bead, pray the Glory Be. 5. Before praying the next set of ten beads (called a decade), first meditate on the first mystery.
Rosary - Meditation on the Mysteries
The Rosary is divided into five decades (ten beads). Each decade represents a mystery or event in the life of Jesus.
Rosary - web
The rosary is a private devotion which involves the practice of repetitive prayer using prayer beads.
BE TO THE FATHER. 4. On the single bead, following the group of three beads, the Mysteries of the Rosary begin.

Suggested News Resources

The Mystery Behind Rosary Beads
St. Mary's Catholic Church in Minooka is having a Rosary Renewal later this month for reflection and fellowship. They invite any of the faithful who want to attend.
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The name comes from the Latin for "garland of roses," and worshippers move their fingers along a garland-like set of beads as they pray.
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The rosary is a powerful prayer and a wonderful way for us to express our love for our Lord and his mother. Liturgica has wedding cord rosaries, which are a growing trend.
Priest - movie review
Unimpressed, Priest rips his rosary beads apart in slow motion, wastes a few religious policemen in a barroom brawl, and rides out into the reservations with Hicks.

Suggested Web Resources

Rosary - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A 16th century rosary found on board the carrack Mary Rose A new mystery is meditated upon at each of the large beads.
How to Pray the Rosary
rosary - how to pray the rosary - catholic rosary prayer
The traditional Rosary on which the Rosary Mysteries are prayed, consists of 59 beads.
rosary with the mystery beads on The Catholic Company
The Holy Rosary
With the Holy Rosary we meditate the mysteries of joy, of sorrow, of light, and Each Mystery may be meditate "bead by bead" for every Hail Mary of the decade.