The Holy Rosary
The rosary has 59 beads, a crucifix, and a medal, with certain prayers for each of these different pieces. The prayers of the rosary can be divided into three categories:
- Introductory Prayers
- The Decades
- Closing Prayers
With the prayers of the rosary, we ask Mary to pray for us and to guide us by the example of her son, Jesus.
What is the Rosary and why do we pray it?
The Rosary is an old prayer that leads us to Jesus through Mary. The word rosary means garland of roses, which has been interpreted into the rosary of today, a string of beads. Mother Mary, also known as the Lady of the Rosary, urged everyone to pray the rosary to help people grow in their faith, convert sinners, and bring about world peace.
Every October 7 we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary by meditating upon the mysteries of Christ and connecting with the incarnation, passion and glorious resurrection of the Son of God.
The introductory prayers set the stage for the rosary. They prepare you for deeper reflection when you pray the decades.
Either before or after the introductory prayers, think of any needs or struggles in your life and bring them to Mary. She cares for you like a loving mother, and wants to take your needs to Jesus. If you are praying with a group, you can say your intentions out loud so the rest of the group can pray for them as well.
Step 1: While holding the crucifix, make the Sign of the Cross and pray the Apostles’ Creed (a brief summary of the core beliefs of our faith).
The Apostles Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He arose again; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen
Step 2: On the first large bead, pray the Our Father (the prayer Jesus taught us), typically for the intentions of the pope.
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. And lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Step 3: On the next three small beads, pray the Hail Mary (a prayer to Mary, based on words from the Bible). These Hail Marys are often prayed for an increase in faith, hope, and love.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among 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
Step 4: In the space after the third Hail Mary, pray the Glory Be (a simple expression of praise and belief in the Trinity).
The Glory Be
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
One you’ve prayed these introductory prayers, you are ready to begin the first decade.
There are five decades, or groups of 10 small beads, that make up the main portion of the rosary. Between each decade is one large bead set off by itself.
You’ll find that the prayers for each decade are repeated many times. This gives you an opportunity to reflect on the words, which are deeply rooted in the Bible and Christian tradition. They are powerful and filled with meaning.
Step 5: On the next large bead, pray the Our Father.
Step 6: On each small bead in the decade, pray the Hail Mary.
Step 7: In the space after the 10th bead, pray the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer (a prayer Mary revealed to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917).
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy.
Repeat steps 5–7 for the remaining four decades. Pray an Our Father on the large bead and a Hail Mary on each of the 10 small beads, followed by the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer.
As you pray the decades, you can also meditate on the mysteries of the rosary (reference bottom of page!) and learn valuable lessons from the lives of Jesus and Mary.
The closing prayers are prayed on the medal, and they end the rosary. With these prayers we ask God and Mary to watch over us, guide us, and help us become a-better-version-of-ourselves.
Step 8: Pray the Hail, Holy Queen (a prayer asking for Mary’s help).
Hail Holy Queen Prayer
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 valley 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.
Step 9: While holding the crucifix, make the Sign of the Cross.
As you practice praying the rosary, these prayers will become second nature to you. There’s a rhythm to the rosary. As you enter into that rhythm, you’ll begin to think less about the words and more about the meaning of the words.
That’s when you begin to unlock the power of the rosary.
If you are new to the rosary, take some time to familiarize yourself with the beads themselves. Practice holding the rosary in your hand and feeding the beads between your fingers. See if you can remember which prayers are prayed at each point in the rosary.
The Mysteries of the Rosary
Another fruitful way to pray the rosary is to meditate on important events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. Twenty of these moments are captured in what we call the mysteries of the rosary. These mysteries are grouped into four sets: joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious. Each set of mysteries is prayed on specific days of the week. They serve as a backdrop to the decades of the rosary and hold incredible insights worthy of reflection.
As you meditate on these events, let the words of the prayers float by. Focus less on the words and more on the mysteries. Get lost in the scene. Imagine yourself there. Each of the mysteries of the rosary can teach you a valuable lesson about life, love, and God’s dream for you.
If you are praying the rosary in a group, the leader announces the mystery before beginning each decade.
Prayed on Mondays and Saturdays
|1st Decade||The Annunciation|
|2nd Decade||The Visitation|
|3rd Decade||The Birth of Jesus|
|4th Decade||The Presentation|
|5th Decade||The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple|
Prayed on Thursdays
|1st Decade||The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan|
|2nd Decade||The Wedding Feast at Cana|
|3rd Decade||The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God|
|4th Decade||The Transfiguration of Jesus|
|5th Decade||The Institution of the Eucharist|
Prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays
|1st Decade||The Agony in the Garden|
|2nd Decade||The Scourging at the Pillar|
|3rd Decade||The Crowning with Thorns|
|4th Decade||The Carrying of the Cross|
|5th Decade||The Crucifixion|
Prayed on Wednesdays and Sundays
|1st Decade||The Resurrection|
|2nd Decade||The Ascension|
|3rd Decade||The Descent of the Holy Spirit|
|4th Decade||The Assumption|
|5th Decade||The Crowning of Mary Queen of Heaven|
When you meditate on these mysteries and establish the rosary as a spiritual habit in your life, an amazing thing happens: Jesus’ peace becomes your peace, his hope becomes your hope, and his healing becomes your healing as his life transforms your life.