The Rosary, also called the Holy Rosary, is a Roman Catholic prayer and meditative practice summarizing the key events in the life of Jesus, and His mother Mary (Mysteries of the Rosary).

The Rosary uses five prayers: The Apostles Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be (The Doxology), and The Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen).  One uses a string of beads (or your fingers or knuckles) to maintain a count of the prayers, as well as to aid in concentration while reciting these prayers.  A traditional, “full” Rosary, consists of the recitation of 150 Hail Mary’s in groups of ten (decades of the Rosary) marked by saying an “Our Father” at the beginning of the decade, and a “Glory Be” at the end of a decade (the more common shorter version uses only 50 Hail Mary’s – 5 decades). Within this repetition of prayers, during each decade, one meditates on each event of the Mysteries of the Rosary – originally fifteen Mysteries (Glorious, Joyful, Sorrowful), now twenty, as the five Luminous Mysteries were added by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

summarized from

The precise origin of the Rosary is uncertain, but Catholic tradition credits Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican order with first using a prayer like this to the Blessed Mother as he was battling the Albigensian heresy in the early part of the 13th century.  The devotion, as we know it today, appears to have evolved from the ancient practice among many religions of using a string of prayer beads, or knots on a string to count repeated prayers.  This form is known to Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, as well as to those of the Eastern Christian Church, and the Anglican Church.

The Catholic Rosary has its roots in the 150 psalms of the Bible which have long been a key part of liturgical prayers.  Tradition has it, that given the volume of psalms and the illiteracy of many of the laity, the people were unable to recite the psalms; therefore, the practice arose to substitute 150 “Our Fathers” in place of the 150 Latin psalms using strings of beads to count the prayers.  These were known as “Paternoster” beads.  At some point, other prayers were incorporated, including the “Hail Mary”, and the recitation of 150 Hail Mary’s in this manner became known as the Marian Psalter.  The practice of praying the Rosary was promoted in the 15th century by Alan de Rupe (also Alan de la Roche) (1428-1475) who was a great apostle of the Rosary and also by Pope Benedict XIV (1740-58).  The method of prayer continued to evolve, and over time incorporated the fifteen (now twenty) Mysteries of the Rosary.

The following is the structure of the praying the Rosary:
Make the Sign of the Cross and say the “Apostles’ Creed”
Say the “Our Father”
Say three “Hail Mary’s” for Faith, Hope, and Charity
Say the “Glory Be”
First Decade: Announce the First Mystery and then say the “Our Father”
Say ten “Hail Mary’s” while meditating on the Mystery
Say the “Glory Be” (Optional: Say the “O My Jesus” prayer requested by Mary at Fatima)
Second Decade (and subsequent decades): Announce the Next Mystery; then say the “Our Father” and repeat these steps (Say ten “Hail Mary’s” while meditating on the Mystery; Say the “Glory Be”) as you continue through the remaining Mysteries (one for each decade).
Say the closing prayers: the “Hail Holy Queen” and “Final Prayer”
Make the “Sign of the Cross”

The Mysteries of the Rosary (one for each decade):


  1. The Annunciation – Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus
  2. The Visitation – Mary visits Elizabeth, and proclaims the Magnificat
  3. The Nativity – the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem
  4. The Presentation – Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God
  5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple – Jesus is found in the Temple discussing his faith with the teachers


  1. The Resurrection – Jesus is raised from the dead
  2. The Ascension – Jesus returns to his Father in heaven
  3. The Coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) – The Holy Spirit comes to the disciples
  4. The Assumption of Mary – Mary is taken body and soul into heaven
  5. The Coronation of Mary – Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth


  1. The Agony in the Garden – Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before he dies
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar – Jesus is lashed with whips
  3. The Crowning With Thorns – Jesus is mocked and crowned with thorns
  4. The Carrying of the Cross – Jesus carries the cross that will be used to crucify him
  5. The Crucifixion – Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies


  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan – God proclaims that Jesus is his beloved Son
  2. The Wedding Feast at Cana – At Mary’s request, Jesus performs his first miracle
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God – Jesus calls all to conversion and service to the Kingdom
  4. The Transfiguration of Jesus – Jesus is revealed in glory to Peter, James, and John
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist – Jesus offers his Body and Blood at the Last Supper.

A practice of praying the short version (5 decades) of the Rosary daily can incorporate this rotation of the Mysteries:

Monday               JOYFUL

Tuesday               SORROWFUL

Wednesday         GLORIOUS

Thursday              LUMINOUS

Friday                   SORROWFUL

Saturday              JOYFUL

Sunday                GLORIOUS

Read about the Rosary as a meditative practice at


The Rosary Center

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception