How to pray the Rosary

Catholics have dozens, maybe even hundreds of personal or private devotions. Perhaps one of the most popular is the Rosary.

The Rosary is a group of prayers intended to be used during meditative prayer time. It is a very good prayer when you want to spend about 20 minutes in prayer.

The Rosary consists of 5 main prayers, plus several optional prayers. Three of the most common optional prayers have become regularly used, and are included in this pamphlet. Many of these prayers have very interesting histories and are also said on their own or in other settings.

A set of Rosary beads is used for keeping count of the prayers and following the pattern of the Rosary. A set of Rosary beads consists of a crucifix, 6 large or separated beads and 53 small or grouped beads. There are one group of 3 beads and 5 groups of 10 (referred to as decades). Some sets of Rosary beads will have a small medal in the center joining the strings. The medal is generally decorative and isn't used for any of the prayers. However, if there is a medal on your Rosary beads, you can use it to mark your closing prayers.

The Mysteries:

The basis of the Rosary is the Mysteries. These are 20 events in our faith, mostly taken directly from the scriptures, and mostly reflecting on events in the life of Jesus. These events, or Mysteries, are divided into 4 groups of 5 Mysteries each. When saying the Rosary, select one group of Mysteries. The object of the Rosary is to meditate on these Mysteries as you say your prayers. Think about what they mean to us and how they affect us in our lives.

The Rosary is well suited to both individual prayer and group prayer. If praying alone, say each prayer straight through. If praying in a group, one person leads the group. The prayers are split so that the leader says the beginning of the prayer and the group says the conclusion of the prayer.

Begin at the Crucifix:
 – The Sign of the Cross
 – The Apostles' Creed

At the first large or separate bead:
 – Our Father

At each of the 3 small or grouped beads:
 – Hail Mary (3 times, one at each bead)
 – It is common before beginning these 3 prayers to ask for an increase in Faith, Hope and Charity

Even though the next large or separate bead is outside the loop, it marks the beginning of the loop. It is the beginning of the first decade.

At the next large or separate bead and at each large/separate bead following:
 – State the Mystery (for example, say: "The first Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation.")
 – Our Father

On each of the 10 beads, and at each decade group following, continue to meditate on the Mystery as you pray:
 – Hail Mary (10 times, one at each bead)

After each decade:
 – Glory Be
 – Fatima Prayer

After completing the 5 decades, pray:
 – Hail Holy Queen
 – The Rosary Prayer
 – The Sign of the Cross

These are the mysteries:

The Joyful Mysteries (Mondays and Saturdays)

1) The Annunciation (of the Angel Gabriel to Mary)
2) The Visitation (of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth)
3) The Birth of Christ
4) The Presentation (of the infant Jesus in the Temple)
5) The Finding of the child Jesus in the Temple

The Luminous Mysteries (The Mysteries of Light) (Thursdays)

1) The Baptism of Jesus
2) The Wedding at Cana
3) The Proclamation of the Kingdom
4) The Transfiguration
5) The Institution of the Eucharist

The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesdays and Fridays)

1) The Agony in the Garden
2) The Scourging at the Pillar
3) The Crowning with Thorns
4) The Carrying of the Cross
5) The Crucifixion

The Glorious Mysteries (Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the year)

1) The Resurrection
2) The Ascension (of Jesus into Heaven)
3) The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4) The Assumption of our Lady into heaven
5) The Crowning of our Lady, Queen of Heaven

The days specified above are a recommended guideline, but you may substitute when the occasion calls for it. For example: If you meet with a group and pray the Rosary every Friday, the regular tradition would be to reflect on the Sorrowful Mysteries each time you meet. However, if you would like to reflect on all the mysteries of the Rosary, it is OK to choose a different set each week and cycle through all four sets of Mysteries.

The Sign of the Cross:

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
All: Amen

The Apostles' Creed

Leader: 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 is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
All: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Our Father

Leader: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
All: 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.

Hail Mary

Leader: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
All: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory Be

Leader: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
All: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Fatima Decade Prayer

Leader: O my Jesus,
All: forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

Hail Holy Queen

Leader: Hail, holy Queen,
All: 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 toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Leader: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
All: that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Rosary Prayer

Leader: Let us pray.
All: 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 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 the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rosary image

If you would like to download a trifold prayer card that you can print,
download the trifold here. Print this document double-sided and flip on the short edge.

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