298 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated
tion, the rosary holds a unique position because of its relationship to the
mysteries of Christ and the faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Rosary takes its inspiration from the Gospel to sug-
gest the attitude with which the faithful should recite it.
—Pope Paul VI,
For the Right Ordering and Development of
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
), no. 44
Many of the appearances of Mary, especially at Lourdes and Fatima,
have been associated with the praying of the Rosary. Numerous popes
and saints have urged the faithful to pray the Rosary. Opening the
Marian Year in 1987, the Rosary was a global prayer for peace offered
by large groups at Marian shrines such as those in Washington, D.C.,
Lourdes, Frankfurt, Manila, Bombay, Rio de Janeiro, and Dakar.
The popularity of the Rosary has been attributed to St. Dominic
and the Dominican Order. It grew out of the laity’s desire to have 150
prayers to match the 150 psalms chanted by the monks in monasteries.
In 1569, St. Pius V officially recommended the praying “of 150 angelic
salutations . . . with the Lord’s prayer at each decade . . . while meditat-
ing on the mysteries which recall the entire life of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. It begins with the Apostles’
Creed, which is itself a summary of the great mysteries of Catholic faith,
based on Scripture, from creation through redemption and up to the
Resurrection of the body and everlasting life. The Our Father, which
introduces each mystery, is taken from the Gospels. The first part of
the Hail Mary is composed from verses from the Gospel of Luke (1:29
and 1:42), the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s
greeting to Mary. St. Pius V officially added the second part to the
The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life.
The Joyful Mysteries, which recall aspects of the Incarnation, are the
Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation of Jesus in
the Temple, and the Finding of the Child Jesus after Three Days in the