The Story of Our Lady of the Rosary
Saint Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the Rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.
The development of the Rosary has a long history. A practice first developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a Mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary’s giving of the Rosary to Saint Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of the Rosary owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as “The Apostle of the Rosary.” He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century.
In the 16th century, the Rosary was developed to its present form—with the 15 Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the five Mysteries of Light to the devotion.
The purpose of the Rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our Christian salvation. The focus is on Jesus—His birth, life, death, and Resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation.
The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in meditating on these Mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is joined with Jesus in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glory Bes remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity. The repetition of words helps create an atmosphere to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life, and we grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.
The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary
Whether you are new to praying the Rosary devotion, or have prayed the Rosary with your family or church community during your life, it may be helpful to review the four Mystery groups of the Rosary–the days during the week when they are usually prayed and the intention prayed for or the virtue associated with the Mysteries in each group. I’ve experienced that associating the Mystery with a virtue I want to develop or strengthen, or a request I’m asking God’s help with, links the scriptural source of the mystery with my spiritual development, the needs of others, and the needs of the world in which we live. The fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary identified below are not a comprehensive listing. You may identify other fruits and intentions or find others in your reading.
The title of the Mystery group is followed by the description of the five Mysteries in the group, and the fruit associated with the Mystery.
The Joyful Mysteries (Prayed on Mondays and Saturdays)
- The Annunciation — Humility
- The Visitation — Love of Neighbor
- The Nativity of the Lord — Poverty of Spirit, Detachment from the Things of the World
- The Presentation — Obedience
- Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple — Piety
The Luminous Mysteries (Prayed on Thursdays)
- The Baptism of Jesus — Openness to the Holy Spirit
- The Miracle at Cana — To Jesus through Mary
- Proclamation of the Kingdom of God — Repentance, Trust in God
- Transfiguration — Desire for Holiness
- Institution of the Eucharist — Eucharistic Adoration, Active Participation at Mass
Sorrowful Mysteries (Prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays)
- Agony in the Garden — Contrition, Conformity to the Will of God
- Scourging at the Pillar — Purity, Mortification
- Crowning with Thorns — Moral Courage
- Carrying of the Cross — Patience
- Crucifixion — Salvation, Self-Denial
Glorious Mysteries (Prayed on Wednesdays)
- The Resurrection — Faith
- The Ascension — Hope, Desire for Heaven
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit — Wisdom, Love of God
- The Assumption of Mary — Devotion to Mary
- The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary — Eternal Happiness
Edward Sri, a theologian and well-known speaker and author has said, “Think of the rosary as being like the ocean: There’s something in it for everyone, whether you consider yourself a veteran mystic longing to go deeper in prayer with our Lord, a novice struggling to learn how to pray, or someone seeking the Lord’s help, right now, with something going on in your life. The deep-sea explorer and the child making sandcastles on the beach can fully enjoy the same ocean while playing at different levels. And this is true with the Rosary.”
Blessings and peace to you as we journey together in Encountering Christ in Word, Liturgy, Charity, and Community.
A Saint Monica Sojourner