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Holy Rosary

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English: Azzano San Paolo, Bergamo, Lombardy, ...

Azzano San Paolo, Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy - procession on the Feast of the Holy Rosary by Luigi Chiesa via Wikipedia

The Holy Rosary is a Catholic devotion usually prayed on a circle of beads, with a short row of five beads and crucifix attached at the bottom.

One prays the rosary to the Blessed Virgin Mary, not only to venerate her and glorify the Lord, but also to implore the saint to pray to God on one’s behalf. This request for intercession can be for oneself, others, the whole world, and for all souls who ever existed and will exist.

A distinction can be made between the instrument itself (the loop of beads), and the type of prayer performed with them. For instance, Catholics often pray a special prayer called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, apparently given to St. Faustina, using rosary beads.

Before 2002, the full rosary consisted of 15 decades (ten beads per decade). A Hail Mary Prayer is said on each bead, with two extra prayers at the end of each decade. The first prayer is The Our Father, which is repeated on each large bead dividing the decades.

English: A sterling silver Catholic rosary. Fr...

A sterling silver Catholic rosary via Wikipedia

Each decade celebrates a holy “mystery.” A mystery is a particular event in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The first group of mysteries involves the Joyful Mysteries (5 decades), dealing with the events leading to Jesus’ birth and growth to maturity.

The next group of mysteries are the Sorrowful Mysteries (5 decades), focussing on the period from Jesus’ arrest to crucifixion.

The third group is the Glorious Mysteries (5 decades), dealing with Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, as well as Mary’s assumption into heaven.

To these three mysteries, Pope John-Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries in October 2002. So the former group of three mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious) officially became four.

No one really knows for sure how the Holy Rosary came into existence. Some believe that it was adapted from earlier Muslim prayer beads, introduced through the Crusades.

Sandro Botticelli, Magnificat, 1480-81, temper...

Sandro Botticelli, Magnificat, 1480-81, tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery, Florence via Wikipedia

Others believe that the Catholic rosary existed prior to the Crusades.

Catholic tradition, itself, says the Holy Rosary originated with St. Dominic (1170-1221 CE).

Not a few non-Catholics liken different goddesses to the Virgin Mary, and in a similar way, not a few people say that different types of prayer beads found around the world – such as Tibetan and Islamic forms – are equivalent to the Holy Rosary.

But this claim seems superficial because world religions are so different from one another.

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