How to Pray the Rosary

A step-by-step guide

Close-up of young woman using prayer beads
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The use of beads or knotted ropes to count large numbers of prayers comes from the earliest days of Christianity, but the rosary as we know it today emerged in the second thousand years of Church history. The full rosary consists of 150 Hail Marys, divided into three sets of 50, which are further divided into five sets of 10 (a decade).

Traditionally, the rosary is divided into three sets of mysteries: Joyful (recited on Monday and Thursday, and Sunday from Advent until Lent); Sorrowful (Tuesday and Friday, and Sunday during Lent); and Glorious (Wednesday and Saturday, and Sunday from Easter until Advent). (When Pope John Paul II introduced the optional Luminous Mysteries in 2002, he recommended praying the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday, and the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday year-round, leaving Thursday open for meditation on the Luminous Mysteries.)

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 20 minutes

What You Need:

  • A standard rosary (five decades) or a rosary bracelet (one decade)

Here's How:

  1. Make the Sign of the Cross

  2. Recite the Apostles' Creed

    On the crucifix, recite The Apostles' Creed.
  3. Pray the Our Father

    On the first bead above the crucifix, recite The Our Father.
  4. Pray the Hail Mary Three Times

    On the next three beads, recite The Hail Mary.
  5. Pray the Glory Be

    • Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
  6. Announce the First Mystery of the Rosary

    Announce the appropriate Joyful, SorrowfulGlorious, or Luminous mystery for that decade of the rosary.
  7. Pray the Our Father

    On the single bead, pray The Our Father.
  8. Pray the Hail Mary Ten Times

    On the next ten beads, pray The Hail Mary.
  9. Optional: Pray the Glory Be

  10. Optional: Pray the Fatima Prayer

    The Fatima Prayer was given to the three shepherd children at Fatima by Our Lady, who asked that they recite it at the end of each decade of the rosary.
  11. Repeat Steps 5-9 for the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Decades

  12. Optional: Pray the Hail Holy Queen

  1. Optional: Pray for the Intentions of the Holy Father

    Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father.
  2. Conclude With the Sign of the Cross


  • For public or communal recitation, a leader should announce each mystery and pray the first half of each prayer. The others praying the rosary should respond with the second half of each prayer.