How do you pray the Rosary?


Click here for Spanish version
To pray the rosary you should use a Rosary. A Rosary is a string of beads with a crucifix. A short string of five beads is attached to the crucifix which leads to a large circular strip of beads made of five sets of one large bead and ten smaller beads, called decades. You begin on the crucifix with a Sign of the Cross and an Apostles' Creed. Say an Our Father on the large bead and one Hail Mary for each of the next three smaller beads. On the next large bead, say a Glory Be to the Father, announce and meditate on the first mystery and say an Our Father. Say a Hail Mary for each of the following smaller beads, and end the decade with the Glory Be. Begin the cycle again with an Our Father, meditate the second mystery according to the same schema and so on for the third, fourth and fifth mysteries. You end with the Prayer After the Rosary and a Sign of the Cross.

Instructions on praying the Rosary in several foreign languages are also available on the web. Spanish and Italian versions may be found at www.holyrosary.org.

The usual Rosary contains five decades. The mysteries include the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Glorious Mysteries and the Luminous Mysteries.




The Joyful Mysteries, to be said on Mondays and Saturdays:
The Annunciation of Our Lord
Meditation: The angel said to Mary, "You shall conceive and bear a son and give him
the name of Jesus. And he will be called Son of the Most High." Luke 1:31-32

The Visitation
Meditation: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb ... Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled." Luke 1:42-45

The Nativity of Jesus
Meditation: While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. Luke 2:-6-7

The Presentation in the Temple
Meditation: When the day came to purify them according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus up to Jerusalem so that he could be presented to the Lord. Luke 2:22

The Finding in the Temple
Meditation: They came upon him in the temple sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed. Luke 2:46-47

Return to the top




Luminous Mysteries , to be said on Thursdays

Source: Fr. Earl Fernandes, associate pastor at Holy Angels Church in Sidney,  Ohio. The scriptural translations are from the New American Bible and from La Biblia, Edicion Pastoral, revisada 1995, published by San Pablo, Madrid, and Editorial Verbo Divino, Estella.

The First Luminous Mystery: The Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan

Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John tried to refuse him with the protest, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me!” Jesus answered him, “Give in for now; we must do this if we are to fulfill all of God’s demands.” So John gave in. After Jesus was baptized, he came directly out of the water. Suddenly, the sky opened and he saw the Spirit of God descend like a dove, and hover over him. With that, a voice from the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on Him.” The Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light. Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became “sin” for our sake (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Matthew 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out.

Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 21

Return to the top


The Second Luminous Mystery: The Self-Revelation of the Lord at the Wedding Feast of Cana

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had likewise been invited to the celebration. At a certain point in time the wine ran out, and Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” Jesus replied, “Woman, how does this concern of yours involve me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother instructed those waiting on table, “Do whatever he tells you.” As prescribed for Jewish ceremonial washings, there were at hand six stone jars, each one holding fifteen to twenty gallons. “Fill those jars with water, “Jesus ordered, at which they filled them to the brim. “Now,” he said, “draw some out and take it to the waiter in charge.” They did as he instructed them. The waiter in charge tasted the water made wine, without knowing where it had come from; only the waiters knew, since they had drawn the water. Then the waiter in charge called the groom over and remarked to him, “People usually serve the choice wine first; then when the guests have been drinking awhile, a lesser vintage. What you have done is keep the choice wine until now.” Jesus performed the first of his signs at Cana in Galilee. Thus did he reveal his glory, and the disciples believed in him.

Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. John 2:1- 12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers. … In these mysteries, apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background. The Gospels make only the briefest reference to her occasional presence at one moment or other during the preaching of Jesus (cf. Mark 3:31-5; John 2:12), and they give no indication that she was present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Yet the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary's lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ's public ministry and it forms the Marian foundation of all the “mysteries of light.”

Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 21.

Return to the top


The Third Luminous Mystery: The Lord Jesus Proclaims the Coming of the Kingdom of God

Mark 1:14-15

After John’s arrest, Jesus appeared in Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. “This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel!” Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mark 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mark 2:3-13; Luke 7:47- 48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church (cf. John 20:22-23).

Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 21

Return to the top


The Fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Luke 9:28-36

About eight days after saying this, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up onto a mountain to pray. While he was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly two men were talking with him -- Moses and Elijah. They appeared in glory and spoke of his passage, which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem. Peter and those with him had fallen into a deep sleep; but awakening, they saw his glory and likewise saw the two men who were standing with him. When these were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, how good it is for us to be here. Let us set up three booths, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (He did not really know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and the disciples grew fearful as they entered it. Then from the cloud came a voice which said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” When the voice fell silent, Jesus was there alone. The disciple kept quiet, telling nothing of what they had seen at that time to anyone. The mystery of light par excellence is the Transfiguration, traditionally believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished Apostles to “listen to him” (cf. Luke 9:35 and parallels) and to prepare to experience with him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit.

Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 21

Return to the top


The Fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist

Matthew 26:26-30

During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. “Take this and eat it,” he said. “This is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. “All of you must drink from it,” he said, “for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink this fruit of the vine from now until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s reign.” Then, after singing songs of praise, they walked out to the Mount of Olives.A final mystery of light is the institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies “to the end” his love for humanity (John 13:1), for whose salvation he will offer himself in sacrifice.

Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 21

Return to the top




The Sorrowful Mysteries, to be said on Tuesdays and Fridays:

The Agony in the Garden
Meditation: Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane ... He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer. "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass me by." Matthew 26:36-39

The Scourging at the Pillar
Meditation: The people said, "Let his blood be on us and on our children." At that, he released Barabbas to them. Jesus, however, he first had scourged. Matthew 27:25-26

The Crowning with Thorns
Meditation: They stripped off his clothes and wrapped him in a scarlet cloak. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they fixed it on his head ... and began to mock him. Matthew 27:28-29

The Carrying of the Cross
Meditation: Jesus was led away, and carrying the cross by himself, went out to what is called the Place of the Skull. There they crucified him. John 19:16-18

The Crucifixion and Death
Meditation: The curtain in the sanctuary was torn in two, Jesus uttered a loud cry and said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." After this, he expired. Luke 23:45-46

Return to the top




The Glorious Mysteries, to be said on Wednesdays and Sundays:

The Resurrection of Our Lord
Meditation: The angel spoke, "Do not be frightened. I know you are looking for Jesus the crucified, but he is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised." Matthew 28:5-6

The Ascension into Heaven
Meditation: Then he led them out near Bethany, and with hands upraised, blessed them. As he blessed, he left them, and was taken up to heaven. Luke 24:50-51

The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Meditation: Tongues as of fire appeared which parted and came to rest on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:3-4

The Assumption of Mary
Meditation: Blessed are you daughter, by the Most High Lord, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Judith 13:18

The Coronation of Mary
Meditation: A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Revelation 12:1

Return to the top




Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Return to the top

Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.

Return to the top

Our Father
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Return to the top

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Return to the top

Glory Be to the Father
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.

Return to the top

Prayer After the Rosary
Hail! Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, O most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
O God, whose only-begotten Son, by His Life, Death, and Resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech You, that, meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Return to the top



More Information on the Rosary

Return to Frequently Asked Questions

Return to The Mary Page

This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Michael P. Duricy , was last modified Monday, 09/19/2011 16:33:45 EDT by Victor Pennekamp . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.