The rosary originated with St. Dominic in the late 12th or 13th century. Legend has it that Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, appeared to Dominic and gave him instructions for the mysteries. However, it is interesting to note that Catholic monks carried prayer beads before St. Dominic’s time.
Monks used to carry a rope with 150 knots tied in it to represent the 150 Psalms. Since many monks could not read, they were unable to recite the 150 Psalms that were part of the Divine Office. An acceptable substitute was to pray 150 Our Father’s instead. In Latin, ‘Our Father’ is paternoster, so these ancient prayer beads were called paternoster beads. Poor people would carry a cord with 50 knots and go through it three times during the day to cover their 150 Our Father prayers.
The rosary marked a change from this ancient practice. Instead of praying through the Psalms, it reflects on the lives of Jesus and Mary. Instead of praying only the Our Father, each decade begins with a larger Our Father bead, followed by 10 beads for Hail Mary prayers. Each rosary has 5 decades, and there are 5 Mysteries to meditate on each day. A person praying through all the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries would say a total of 150 Hail Mary prayers… similar to the ancient number of paternosters.
The rosary prayers begin on the crucifix, where you recite the Apostle’s Creed. Then comes an Our Father, followed by 3 Hail Mary beads. Traditionally, the first Our Father bead is for the intentions of the Pope, while the Hail Mary beads are prayers for faith, hope, and love. You then begin the 1st mystery with the 1st decade of 1 Our Father and 10 Hail Mary prayers. These can be followed by the Glory Be before starting the next decade. After working around the circle with all 5 decades, the rosary concludes with The Rosary Prayer.
If you need rosary beads to help you on your prayer journey or to give a loved one the special gift of faith and prayer, you may find them here: https://www.christiancatholicshop.com/collections/rosaries
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Lizann is a Catholic military wife and mother who loves to share about her faith. Read more from Lizann and our other contributors on the Christian Catholic Shop blog.