The History of the Rosary
The Holy Rosary is an ancient aid to devotion that has been used by the Church to meditate on Our Lord’s life, ministry, death, Resurrection and Ascension through the particular point of view of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to ask that its prayers be joined with those of Our Lady. Therefore, while it bears a considerable resemblence to prayer systems used throughout the world, such as the knotted prayer ropes that Orthodox monks wear around their waists and the prayer beads used in the Middle East, it is much more than simply a system for remembering how many times a particular prayer has been said.
The Rosary of Our Lady had its greatest proponent in St Dominic, who was visited by Our Lady and given the Rosary as a means by which the people of the Church of God could be encouraged to pray for the Unity of the Church. St Dominic promoted its use during a preaching campaign in the south of France. Its use has spread throughout the Church ever since.
How to pray the Rosary
- Commit your saying of the Rosary to God by making the sign of the Cross and saying: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’
- Holding the Crucifix, say the Apostles’ Creed.
- Holding the single bead immediately above the Crucifix, say an ‘Our Father’.
- On each of the three beads in the following group, say the Hail Mary. Then say a Glory be.(Although there is no set of mysteries associated with these three Hail Marys, you may find it helpful to associate them with a prayer for an increase in yourself of the virtues of faith, hope and charity.)
- Introduce the First Mystery and say an Our Father on the single bead immediately above the group of three smaller beads.
- On each of the beads in the first group of ten, say an Hail Mary, meditating as you do so on the First Mystery. At the end of the ten Hail Marys, say a Glory be.
- Repeat this pattern for each of the five mysteries you are meditating upon, moving along the groups of beads as you do so.
- After the fifth set of ten beads, holding the medallion of Our Lady (most if not all Rosaries will have one) say the Salve Regina.
- Conclude the Rosary by saying ‘Pray for us O holy Mother of God; that we made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen’.
The Mysteries of the Rosary
There are four sets of five mysteries of the Rosary – the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries. They are generally prayed according to the pattern described below, although it can be varied if, for instance, you are able only say the Rosary on the same day each week and want to pray all the Mystries in rotation on that day.
The Joyful Mysteries – prayed on Mondays and Saturdays
The Finding in the Temple
The Luminous Mysteries – Thursdays
The Baptism of the Lord in the River Jordan
The First Miracle of Our Lord at the Wedding at Cana
The Proclamation of the Kingdom in Our Lord’s Teaching
The Institution of the Eucharist
The Sorrowful Mysteries – Tuesdays and Fridays
The Agony in the Garden
The Crowning with Thorns
The Carrying of the Cross
The The Crucifixion
The Glorious Mysteries – Wednesdays and Sundays
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
The Assumption of Our Lady
The Coronation of Our Lady
The Prayers of the Rosary
To say the Rosary you need either to know or have a copy of each of the following prayers:
The Apostles’ Creed
The Our Father (or Lord’s Prayer)
The Glory be
The Hail Mary
The Salve Regina (or Hail Holy Queen)
Rosaries can be bought in many Christians bookshops, at shrines of Our Lady and other Christian places. There is also a limited supply of Rosaries available for sale at St Mary’s. They need not be expensive – a rosary made up of plastic beads may cost as little as £2-£3. It can be helpful to have one or more books of meditations to accompany the saying of the Rosary. Again, these are widely available, via Internet booksellers such as amazon.co.uk, as well as from many Christian shops and bookshops, again for as little as £2-£3.
Many people like to have a new Rosary blessed by a priest and sprinkled with Holy Water. Any of the priests of the Anglo-Catholic parishes would be happy to bless a Rosary, or any other article of devotion, as would many other priests, Roman Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox.
Myths about the Rosary
The principle myth about the Rosary is that it is something that only Roman Catholics do. This is not true. That idea hides the fact that Christians of all traditions find devotion to Our Lady and the use of the Rosary immensely helpful in their prayer lives – John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was never without his Rosary. It also betrays that amongst some Christians there is a regrettable and sinful attitude that they won’t pray the Rosary expressly because it is done by Roman Catholics. It is Christ’s will for the Church that all Christians should be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21). All Christians should be prepared to learn from and pray with one another in the cause of Christian unity. The saying of the Rosary by all Christians is an example of how we can do this.
The Rosary is said every Tuesday at 6pm.