How to Pray the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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.)

Step One

Make the Sign of the Cross.

Step Two

On the crucifix, recite The Apostles' Creed.

Step Three

On the first bead above the crucifix, recite The Our Father.

Step Four

On the next three beads, recite The Hail Mary.

Step Five

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.

Step Six

Announce the appropriate Joyful, SorrowfulGlorious, or Luminous mystery for that decade of the rosary.

Step Seven

On the single bead, pray The Our Father.

Step Eight

On the next ten beads, pray The Hail Mary.

Optional Step Nine

Pray the Glory Be or 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.

Then, Repeat

Repeat steps 5 to 9 for the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Decades.

Optional Step 10

Pray the Hail Holy Queen.

And, you can also 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.

Conclude

Conclude with the Sign of the Cross

Tips for Praying

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.