In October we celebrate the month of the Rosary, with the feast of the Holy Rosary taking place on October 7th. This devotion is one that has a long history in the Catholic Church and one that many of the Saints have spoken of with great love and reverence. To prepare for next month, we're sharing a little more about this tradition - a brief history of the rosary, how to pray it, and St. Josemaria's love for the practice.
Brief History of the Rosary:
The Holy Rosary may be something that you grew up praying as a family or maybe it's a newer devotion for you. We hear of its power and how it is a spiritual weapon for all those who meditate and pray it, but where did it come from? Did anyone ever tell you where it originated from? If not, let us dive into this together.
Well, to start, it is interesting to note that praying with rosary beads to aid mediation stems from pre-Christian times. There is some evidence that states that in the Middle Ages Christians used beads to count the “Our Fathers” and “Hail Marys” from the Rosary. The string with beads or the rosary was known then as “Paternosters,” which is Latin for “Our Father”. Fast forward a few decades, in the 12th and 15th centuries the Rosary’s structure slowly evolved into being accompanied by Psalms and phrases from the life of Jesus called the “Rosarium” or “Rose Garden”. Lastly, in the 16th century, five decades and three sets of mysteries came about.
To add, St. Dominic is attached to this strong devotion. He is said to have devised the rosary moved by a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Not all scholars take exception to this because the early accounts of his life were not linked to it and some portraits of him do not include the rosary in them. That being said, it is safe to say that although the origin of the rosary is a bit shaky, it is a product of a long and gradual process that began before St. Dominic and reached its finality centuries after his lifetime.
“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.”- Our Lady to Bl. Alan de la Roche.
The Joyful Mysteries (Mondays & Saturdays)
The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesdays and Fridays)
Glorious Mysteries (Wednesdays and Sundays)
Luminous Mysteries (Thursdays)
There are many ways of praying the Rosary, but the basis of praying it is to pick the mystery of the day (as stated above) and begin with the sign of the cross and recite the apostles' creed. Then say an “Our Father” and three “Hail Marys” for Faith, Hope, and Charity ending with a “Glory Be”.
Following this, you can announce the first mystery and possibly leave room for a bit of meditation. Then say the “Our Father” followed by ten “Hail Marys” and a “Glory Be” at the end. Continue doing so with the five mysteries until done with all the mysteries and finalize with the “Hail Holy Queen”, “Final Prayer” and the sign of the holy cross. Also, if you would like to, many Christians have acquired the tradition of reciting the Litany of Loreto afterward or the St. Michael prayer.
For more on the history of the Litany of Loreto, in her book, Maureen Mullins dives into the beautiful devotion and the 53 titles contained in the prayer.
There are many saints with a strong devotion to the Holy Rosary and St. Josemaria happens to be one of them. His book Holy Rosary,originally published in 1934 contains short commentaries on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary - Joyful, Sorrowful & Glorious. Since Pope St. John Paul II introduced the Luminous mysteries after St. Josemaria's death, commentaries on the Luminous mysteries were later added to this book by pulling from other writings of St. Josemaria during his lifetime.
This book is designed to lead the reader into trusting conversation with our Lady who brings us closer to God. The book does wonders to aid in praying the rosary since one of the goals of praying the rosary is to enter more deeply into the mysteries of Jesus’ life. It also contains a brief commentary on the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the end for further devotion.
We recommend reading and reflecting on the brief meditations at the start of each mystery as a way to further enter into the mystery you are contemplating. St. Josemaria often suggested we picture ourselves as another character in the scene!
“My friend: I have disclosed to you just a part of my secret. It is up to you, with God's help, to discover the rest. Take courage. Be faithful. Become little. Our Lord hides Himself from the proud and reveals the treasures of His grace to the humble. Never fear if, when thinking on your own, daring and childish words and affections escape from you. If you say the Rosary in this way, you will learn to pray well.” - Holy Rosary by St. Josemaria Escriva