The Rosary

History of the Rosary

Beads have been used by people across many cultures and faith traditions to assist them in reciting and remembering prayers. The Desert Fathers (third century AD) created knotted prayer ropes to keep track of the number of times they recited the Jesus prayer, or to assist them in memorizing and keeping track of their recitation of the 150 psalms in the Old Testament. The faithful who were illiterate, but wanting to imitate the monks’ prayer style, would recite 150 Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayers on their knotted prayer ropes.

Catholic tradition holds that our Blessed Mother Mary gave the Rosary to Dominic of Osma in 1214 in the Monastery of Our Lady of Prouille, in France. Although the legend cannot be validated, and there are some historical references which indicate the Rosary was known from the ninth century, the development of the Rosary as a prayer form well-loved by many Catholics owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic. 

The Dominican Alan de la Roche, known as “the apostle of the Rosary,” founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the Rosary was developed to consist of 15 mysteries: joyful, sorrowful and glorious. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the five Mysteries of Light to this devotion.

What is the Rosary?

The word “rosary” comes from a Latin word which means a “crown of roses” or a “garland of roses.” Mary is often associated with roses by the saints; the circle of beads, which we call the rosary, is like a garland offered to Mary because we pray a prayer on each bead.

As we recite the Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes, we meditate on the mysteries in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The prayers and mysteries of the Rosary are based on the Gospel. Praying the Rosary is a form of the Christian tradition of lectio divina, using the sacred Scripture to enter more deeply into the joys and sorrows of Our Savior and His Blessed Mother, and realize the joys and sorrows of our own journey of salvation.

By praying the Rosary, we can grow in our love for the Blessed Mother and her Son, understanding how intimately they are joined and how the work of the Holy Trinity unites all in the glory of God. 

No wonder it pleases Mary, Mother of the Church, when we pray the Rosary!

Sources: Franciscan Media, Loyola Press, Wikipedia