The rosary is a form of combined prayer and meditation that has been around for over 1200 years. The origin of the rosary dates back to the ninth century where Irish monks would recite and chant the 150 Psalms of the Bible as a major part of their worship. People living near the monasteries were drawn towards this beautiful and harmonious devotion, and they became very eager to join in with the monks’ prayers.

Unfortunately, the people were not able to adapt to this form of prayer because the psalms were very hard to memorize and printed copies were not readily available. As a result it was suggested to the people outside the monastery that they recite a series of 150 “Our Father” prayers in place of the psalms.

As the Irish monks traveled throughout Europe, bringing with them this form of devotion, many clergy and lay people began to recite the “Angelic Salutation” (first part of the Hail Mary) as part of this devotion.

The first clear historical reference to the rosary, however, is from the life of St. Dominic (died in 1221), the founder of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans. He preached a form of the rosary in France at the time that the Albigensian heresy was devastating the Faith there. Tradition has it that the Blessed Mother herself asked for the practice as an antidote for heresy and sin.

One of Dominic’s future disciples, Alain de Roche, began to establish Rosary Confraternities to promote the praying of the Rosary. The form of the rosary we have today is believed to date from his time.

Around the year 1700, the thoughts used in the rosary started to become narratives. St. Louis de Monfort composed the most common set of narratives that eventually became used as meditations for each decade of the rosary. These narratives were divided into five Joyful,five Sorrowful, and five Glorius meditations that are referred to as “Mysteries”. Just recently, in 2002, Pope John Paul II introduced another set of five meditations referred to as the “Luminous Mysteries”.

“The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort.”
– Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae

The Joyful Mysteries
The Annunciation of the Lord
The Visitation
The Nativity of the Lord
The Presentation of the Lord

The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Agony in the Garden
The Scourging
The Crowning with Thorns
The Carrying of the Cross
The Crucifixion

The Glorious Mysteries
The Resurrection
The Ascension of the Lord
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
The Assumption of the Blessed Mother
The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

The Luminous Mysteries
The Baptism of Jesus
The Wedding Feast of Cana
The Preaching of the Kingdom
The Transfiguration
The Institution of the Eucharist

At St. Bernadette’s the rosary is prayed weekdays after the last morning Mass.