On October 7 the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Rosary is one of the most well known and easily recognized Catholic devotional practices. The actual origin of the Rosary is hard to trace. According to tradition, it may have started in 1214 when the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic. Another theory is that the Rosary began as a way for the laity to imitate monastic practice by having 150 prayers to match the 150 psalms chanted by the monks.
The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels. The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. St. Pius V officially added the second part of the Hail Mary.
The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life. There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and–added by Pope John II in 2002–the Luminous.
The repetition in the Rosary is meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each Mystery. The gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts, where Christ’s spirit dwells. The Rosary can be said privately or with a group.
Rosaries can be made from a wide variety of materials, from cheap plastic beads to precious stones. Once they have been blessed, they are considered a sacramental, and should not be bought or sold or worn around the neck like jewelry.