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The Rosary

The Rosary as it exists today is the result of centuries of work. It was adapted from praying the the
Psalter, or the 150 Psalms. This too over time became praying 150 Pater Nosters, or Our Fathers.
The faithful would keep track of these prayers with rocks on the ground, or with beads attached to
string – much like the Rosary today. It also includes an adapted Marian Psalter. The Rosary was
promulgated and made a feature of the preaching of St. Dominic and his newly formed Dominican

Lots of Marian traditions existed, and still do. Popular devotions include the May Crowning, where
Mary is adorned with a crown made of Roses. She is the mystical rose, and praying the Rosary
bears spiritual roses. Military victories were attributed to the Rosary as well.

The Rosary adapted some features of the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayers religious were required
to pray throughout the day like the addition of the Glory Be after each decade, and adding the
Salve Regina or Hail Holy Queen at the conclusion of the Rosary. After each Psalm in the Divine
Office the faithful recite the Glory Be, and Night Prayer concludes with the Salve Regina.

The Hail Mary prayer comes from Scripture and includes both the Angelic Salutation that Mary
receives from the Angel Gabriel. It also includes the Evangelical salutation of Elizabeth when
Mary goes to visit, but during the 14th century, in the height of the Black Death, an addition was
made asking the Blessed Mother to pray for us now, and at the hour of death – which could have
been that moment since the disease was so rampant and dangerous.

Sadly, the Rosary which was quite popular, began to fall to the wayside. As priests and religious
fled in the hopes of escaping the disease, the knowledge of the Rosary fled with them. Buildings
were burned in attempt to stave the spread of the disease, which included some churches, and
literature on the devotions were consumed by the flames. During this dark period of European
History, the light that came from the Rosary was also slowly being consumed.

The Rosary continued to grow in use and its scope in England during this time. Those who were
unable to attend Mass ordered to pray 50 Hail Mary’s, an Our Father along with the Apostles
Creed. Many believe this is where the addition of the Creed came from. This also gave rise to the
Rosary being depicted in art, in stained glass and statuary. The faithful recognized the power and
weight that came from praying the Rosary that could ‘tip the scales’ in their favor.

The Rosary continued to evolve and different religious communities would add their own flair to
the prayers. While this was happening, the Dominicans returned to the roots of the Rosary and
made a new effort to promote the devotion.

Various forms of the Rosary exist, even today, but the Rosary refers to the Rosary promulgated by
St. Dominic and the Dominican Order. One such ‘reformer’ described his contribution to the
Rosary as a ‘decoration.’ Some orders added more mysteries to the Rosary, some totaling 150.
This particular ‘decorator’ Dominic of Prussia reduced those 150 mysteries to 50 and wrote them
down. One beautiful aspect of the Rosary is that it contains 15 (now 20) mysteries. It was designed
to be simple, transportable, and sharable. We need not be bogged down with books and words, but
rather free to meditate on the mystery presented us.

Up until the Pontificate of St. John Paul II, there were only 15 mysteries of the Rosary, divided up
into 3 groups: The Joyful, The Sorrowful, and The Glorious Mysteries. St. John Paul II added The
Luminious Mysteries.

Despite some efforts to change the name of the Rosary to distance it from slang terms used at the
time, and to remain connected to the Marian Psalter and the Psalms, no other name took. The
Rosary was to be the name for this powerful prayer weapon. In fact, the Rosary was such an
important and engrained part of the Dominican life, the Dominicans began to vest new members
of their order with the Rosary attached to their belt. This custom continues today, and can be seen
in other communities as well.

4 Sets of Mysteries
Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, Glorious

Apostles Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Fatima Prayer (Optional), Salve Regina,
Concluding Prayers

Hail Mary is scriptural – comes from Annunciation and Visitation accounts

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you,
(Luke 1:28)
Blessed are you among women,
(Luke 1:41-42, 48)
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus,
(Luke 1:42)
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
(Luke 1:43)
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
(Luke 2:35)

Scripture Verses Class Assignment

JOYFUL: Monday/Saturday LUMINOUS: Thursday
Lk. 1:26-39 Annunciation 1 Mt. 3:13-16 Baptism 1
Lk. 1:39-56 Visitation 2 Jn. 2:1-11 Wedding 2
Mt. 1:18-25 Nativity 3 Mk. 1:14-15 Proclamation 3
Lk. 2:22-32 Presentation 4 Mt. 17:1-8 Transfiguration 4
Lk. 2:41-52 Finding 5 Mt. 26 Last Supper 5

SORROWFUL: Tuesday/Friday GLORIOUS: Sunday/Wednesday

Mk. 14:32-42 Agony in the Garden 1 Lk. 24:1-12 Resurrection 1
Jn. 19:1 Scourging 2 Lk. 24: 50-53 Ascension 2
Mk. 15:16-20 Crowning of Thorns 3 Acts 2:1-4 Descent of HS 3
Jn. 19:12-17 Carrying of Cross 4 Song 2:8-14 Assumption of BVM 4
Mt. 27:33-56 Crucifixion 5 Rev. 12:1-4 Coronation 5