Many people would associate the Rosary with the Catholic Church. One reason for this is that October is known as the month of the Holy Rosary.
It is important to note that the emphasis is not on the “beads”, but on the prayer. In my religious tradition, the Rosary is considered one of the most powerful prayers because it involves meditating on the life of Christ and his mother as found in the Gospels.
This prayer has developed over centuries and has its roots in the earliest Christian traditions of prayer.
In the third century, men and women of faith, who wanted to deepen their relationship with God, retired to the deserts of Egypt to live as hermits. Every day they recited the 150 psalms. In order to help them in this task, they used stones and ropes so as not to lose count.
They also developed beads to help them with other prayers. The “Jesus Prayer” was a phrase that was recited repeatedly and the rosary helped count the number of times this phrase was recited: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. The Our Father was also recited 150 times a day using a rosary of beads.
This form of prayer continued to develop over the next 1000 years.
The traditional prayer associated with the Rosary was introduced by Pope Gregory the Great (590-604). He requested that a simple form of the Ave Maria be prayed during Advent. This involved repeating the words of the angel Gabriel found in the Gospel of Luke: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you”. (Luke 1:28)
In 1050, the words of Elizabeth at the time of the Visitation were added: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. (Luke 1:42)
The name of Jesus was included at the end of this verse in the year 1261. The phrase, “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners,” was added in 1555. The last verse, “Now and at the hour of our death, Amen,” completed the prayer the following year.
It was only after the Hail Mary prayer was fully developed that the term Rosary was finally given to the prayer and the “rosary” (1597).
The word literally means a garden or a garland of roses. It was understood that this prayer, offered with love and devotion, is like a fragrant bouquet of flowers offered to Jesus and his mother.
Interestingly, in Old English the word bead (bede) means prayer. Thus, the beads of the rosary should lead a person to prayer since a typical rosary is made up of 59 beads. The six largest beads are used to pray the Our Father and the 53 smaller beads are used to pray the Ave Maria.
An important part of offering this prayer is to meditate on the significant gospel events in the life of Jesus. This is done by focusing on the four Mysteries of the Rosary: the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Glorious Mysteries and the Luminous Mysteries.
There are five different events to ponder in each mystery. This corresponds to each decade of the Rosary (10 beads). The hope is that as we meditate on these specific events in the lives of Jesus and Mary, we will see how these events apply to our own lives today. There is a specific mystery assigned to each day of the week.
The Rosary is a beautiful prayer that has its roots in early Christianity and is steeped in Holy Scripture. For this reason, he is promoted during the month of October in the Catholic Church.