The Rosary

On October 16, 2002, as he began the twenty-fifth year of his Pontificate, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter called Rosarium Virginis Mariae. In this document, the Holy Father made a change to the rosary – the addition of a new set of mysteries. He states in his apostolic letter: “for the Rosary to become more fully a ‘compendium of the Gospel’, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the Incarnation and the hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries) and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful mysteries) and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious mysteries), a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer’s traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary’s place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory.”

The Luminous Mysteries, which celebrate the life of Christ, are:

  • The Baptism in the Jordan
  • The Wedding at Cana
  • The Proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The Transfiguration
  • The Institution of the Eucharist

The rosary consists of 5 decades – one for reflection of each mystery. (There are 5 mysteries in each set.)

Traditionally, the Joyful Mysteries are recited on Mondays & Thursdays, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays & Fridays, and Glorious Mysteries on Wednesdays & Saturdays. Sundays vary with the liturgical calendar: the Joyful mysteries during Advent, the Sorrowful mysteries during Lent, and the Glorious Mysteries on other Sundays. The pope has suggested that the second Joyful Mystery be moved from Thursday to Saturday, and that the Mysteries of Light be used for reflection on Thursdays.

The Mysteries of the Rosary are:

The Joyful Mysteries:

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Birth of Christ
  • The Presentation
  • The Finding in the Temple
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
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption
  • The Coronation

How to say the Rosary:

Begin the rosary with the Sign of the Cross and by saying the Apostles Creed, followed by one Our Father, three Hail Marys, the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer. (The Fatima Prayer follows each Glory Be.)

Next are the five decades. Before beginning each decade, announce the mystery. (For example: The first Glorious Mystery – the Resurrection.) For each decade, recite 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer.

Conclude with the Hail Holy Queen.