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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


Marialis Cultus

), 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

Hail Mary.

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