What is the Rosary?

The Rosary is a most powerful prayer that leads us into the heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ where we find strength, comfort, peace, unfathomable love and mercy and a foretaste of Heaven. Because the prayers of the Rosary are inspired by God and come to us from Heaven, they are a true pathway to holiness and eternal life. In the mysteries of the Rosary we join with Mary and together contemplate the face of Jesus, and the mysteries of our salvation.*
*See the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II On the Most Holy Rosary Rosarium Virgin Mariae.

Copyright © “L’Osservatore Romano” photo from the book John Paul II: A Light for the World

“Rosary” comes from the word “rose”. So when we pray the rosary we can think of it as giving roses to our Mother.

The three main prayers of the Rosary are the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. When one of the disciples of Jesus asked Him how to pray, it was the words of the Our Father that Jesus gave them. It was our Lord’s deep desire that we participate with Him in intimate communion with God the Father. And so Jesus said, pray like this:

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 (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4)

The Our Father was composed by Jesus in His Spirit of Love for His Father. It is a good and holy thing to attentively say these words.

Jesus yearns for each one of us to go to our Father and throw ourselves into His arms of Love. If you find it difficult to accept God the Father’s love for you, humbly go to the Heart of Jesus and ask Him to show you the love that the Father has for you. The Holy Spirit will then fill your soul with His flame of love and draw you into silence where you can speak to your adorable Father, the Divine Guest of your soul.

“Thy will be done.” These are the words Jesus learned from his Mother Mary and prayed during His terrible agony in Gethsemane. Each day we can say to God the Father, Thy will be done. In the Spirit of Love, unite your sufferings with the sorrows of Jesus our Saviour and He will strengthen you.

Gethsemane, Carl Bloch (1834-1890)
The Museum of National History on Frederiksborg Castle

“The return of the prodigal son”

In the Our Father prayer we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. This bread is Jesus, the Bread of Life. In the Holy Eucharist, we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This Bread of Life gives us strength for our journey home to Heaven.

Go to God your Father each day. Tell Him you are sorry for your sins. Jesus told us to say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Ask Him to heal you.

Ask God to protect you from the evil one and to send His angels near to protect you in all your ways. Ask Him to help you to stay away from the occasions of sin and each morning and evening pray for the grace of a happy death for yourself and your loved ones. Say with love and confidence, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

The Hail Mary
The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to Mary. He said to her, “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Mary was troubled and the Angel continued, “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end……The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:28-37)

The angel brought these words from Heaven and in the Hail Mary prayer, we repeat the Angelic Salutation. Later when Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit cried out with a loud voice, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1: 41-43) Mary later says, “..for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1: 48)

St. Louis de Montfort tells us that God our Father “gave His Only-begotten Son to the world only through Mary” and “wishes to have children through Mary till the consummation of the world.”

The Annunciation
Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674)

Domenico Ghirlandaio (c 1535 – 1612)

Elizabeth called Mary, “Mother of my Lord” because God became man, conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary. The Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, took on a human nature to redeem us from our sins. When this happened He remained a divine Person with a human and divine nature. Mary gave birth to a divine Person and this is why we call her Mother of God.

The Hail Mary Prayer
“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.”

The Glory Be Prayer
“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.”
The Glory Be prayer of the Rosary is also taken from Scripture:

  • Philippians 4:20, “Now to God and our Father be glory, world without end. Amen”
  • Mathew 28:19, “Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
  • Romans 16:27, “To God, the only wise, through Jesus Christ, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
  • The Apocalypse 4:20, “Thou art worthy, O Lord our God to receive glory and honour and power. Because thou hast created all things: and for thy will they were and have been created.”

Other Prayers of the Rosary

The Apostles Creed Prayer
According to tradition this ancient Creed was said in the first century. The fundamental truths in this Creed were given to the Apostles by Jesus.
“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 Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary;
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into Hell,
the third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
and sits 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 Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the Communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sin,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

The 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 towards us;
And after this, our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!”

(Verse) Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

(Response) That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray Prayer
“O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant we beseech Thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Fatmia Prayer
“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead, all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”

How to Say the Rosary

Look at Jesus who is looking at you

  1. Make the sign of the cross with the crucifix and pray the Apostles Creed
  2. Pray the Our Father on the first large bead
  3. Pray three Hail Marys on the three smaller beads
  4. Pray the Glory Be prayer on the next large bead
  5. Announce the first Mystery and pray the Our Father
  6. Pray ten Hail Mary prayers on the ten small beads, meditating on the Mystery
  7. Pray the Glory Be prayer
  8. Pray the O My Jesus prayer
  9. Announce the second Mystery and pray the Our Father on the large bead
  10. Pray ten Hail Mary prayers on the ten small beads, meditating on the Mystery
  11. Pray the Glory Be prayer
  12. Pray the O My Jesus prayer
  13. Announce the third Mystery and pray the Our Father on the large bead
  14. Pray ten Hail Mary prayers on the ten small beads, meditating on the Mystery
  15. Pray the Glory Be prayer
  16. Pray the O My Jesus prayer
  17. Announce the fourth Mystery and pray the Our Father on the large bead
  18. Pray ten Hail Mary prayers on the ten small beads, meditating on the Mystery
  19. Pray the Glory Be prayer
  20. Pray the O My Jesus prayer
  21. Announce the fifth Mystery and pray the Our Father on the large bead
  22. Pray ten Hail Mary prayers on the ten small beads, meditating on the Mystery
  23. Pray the Glory Be prayer
  24. Pray the O My Jesus prayer
  25. Pray the Hail Holy Queen
  26. End with the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father

The Mysteries of Salvation

We ask You O Lord, through these Mysteries of our Salvation, and through the intercession of Your blessed Mother and our Mother too, for the grace to imitate the fruits and virtues that are contained in these Mysteries and obtain what they promise.

The Joyful Mysteries

The Annunciation — Luke 1:26-38
A profound humility
The Visitation — Luke 1:39-56
Perfect charity toward our neighbor
The Nativity — Luke 2:1-20
Detachment from things of this world, love of poverty and love of the poor
The Presentation — Luke 2:22-39
Wisdom and purity
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple — Luke 2:42-52
Conversion and amendment of our lives, conversion of all sinners, heretics, schismatics, and idolaters

The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Agony in the Garden — Luke 22:39-44
Perfect sorrow for our sins and perfect obedience to Your Holy Will
The Scourging at the Pillar — Mathew 27:26
Mortification of the senses
The Crowning of Thorns — Mathew 27:27-31
Great contempt of the spirit of the world- a spirit of disobedience to God’s laws
The Carrying of the Cross — Luke 23:26-32
Great patience in carrying our cross in Your footsteps every day of our life
The Crucifixion — Mathew 27:33-50
A great horror of sin, a love of the Cross and the grace of a holy death for us and for those who are now in their last agony

The Glorious Mysteries
The Resurrection — Mathew 28:1-20
A lively faith
The Ascension — Luke 24:50-51
A firm hope and a great longing for Heaven
The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles — Acts 2:1-13
Holy wisdom so that we may know, really love and practice Your truth, and make all others share in it
The Assumption — Revelation 12:1
The gift of true devotion to Mary to help us live and die holily
The Coronation — Judith 15: 9-11
Perseverance and increase of virtue until the very moment of death and after that the eternal crown that is prepared for us, for all the just and for all our benefactors

The Mysteries of Light
The Baptism of Christ — John 1:29-34; Mathew 3:13-17
Openness to the Holy Spirit
The Wedding Feast at Cana — John 2:1-11
The grace to turn our burdens, fears, anxieties and cares over to our Blessed Mother and to You
The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God — Mathew 4:17
Repentance and conversion
The Transfiguration — Mathew 17:1-8
The desire for holiness
The Institution of the Eucharist — Mathew 26:26-29

Diego Velazques, 1599-1660

Giotto di Bondone, 1267-1337


Diego Velazques, 1599-1660, The Crucifixion, taken from Wikimedia

The listing of the virtues and fruits in the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries taken from St. Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, Montfort Publications, Bayshore, N.Y. 1992, pp 111-116

Giotto di Bondone, 1267-1337, Capella Scrovegni a Padova, Last Supper, taken from Wikimedia

St. Louis De Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, IL, 1985, Nos. 16, 29.