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Rosary based prayers are mostly Roman Catholic prayers said on a set of rosary beads. These prayers recite specific word sequences on different parts of the rosary beads. They may be directed at Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary or The Father.[1] Somewhat similar bead-based prayers also exist in other Christian denominations.

Holy Rosary

The best known example of a rosary based prayer is simply called "The Holy Rosary" and involves contemplation on five rosary mysteries, while Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the Father prayers are recited.[2]

This rosary prayer goes back several centuries and there are differing views among experts on its exact history.[3] In the sixteenth century, Pope Pius V established the current form of the original 15 mysteries for this rosary and they remained so until the 20th century.[4] Pope John Paul II extended the mysteries in this rosary during his reign, while keeping the original mysteries intact.


In Monastic Houses, monks were expected to pray the Divine Office daily in Latin, the liturgical language of the Roman Catholic Church. In some Houses, lay brothers who did not understand Latin or who were illiterate were required to say the Lord's Prayer a certain number of times per day while meditating on the Mysteries of the Incarnation of Christ. Since there were 150 Psalms, this could number up to 150 times per day. To count these repetitions, they used beads strung upon a cord and this set of prayer beads became commonly known as a Pater noster, which is the Latin for "Our Father". Lay people adopted this practice as a form of popular worship. The Paternoster could be of various lengths, but was often made up of 5 “decades” of 10 beads, which when performed three times made up 150 prayers. Other Paternosters, most notably those used by lay persons, may have had only had 10 beads, and may have also been highly ornamented. As the Rosary (ring of flowers) incorporating the Hail Mary prayer became more common, it was often still referred to as a Paternoster.

Chaplet of Saint Michael

A Saint Michael Rosary

The Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel was approved by Pope Pius IX in 1851, and was granted indulgences. It is based on a vision of Archangel Michael reported by the Portuguese Carmelite nun Antonia d'Astonac.[5][6]

The chaplet consists of nine salutations, one for each choir of angels. An Our Father and three Hail Marys are said on each (one large and three small beads) section. It concludes with four Our Fathers, honoring Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and the Guardian Angel. The chaplet is begun with an act of contrition and is concluded with a prayer to Saint Michael.

Along with the Scapular of St. Michael, this chaplet forms the pair of Roman Catholic Sacramentals devoted to Archangel Michael.

The Servite Rosary

In 1233, seven of the members of a Florentine Confraternity devoted to the Holy Mother of God were gathered in prayer under the presidency of Alessio Falconieri. According to tradition, Mary appeared to the young men and exhorted them to devote themselves to her service, in retirement from the world. They retired to the deserted slopes of Monte Senario near Florence, where they experienced another vision of Mary. There they formed a new Order called the Servants of Mary, or Servites, in recognition of their special manner of venerating Our Lady of Sorrows. The seven-"week" Servite Rosary is variously called the Servite Chaplet; Rosary of the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and the Seven Swords Rosary. A set of introductory prayers for the Servite Rosary was written by St. Alphonsus Liguori in his book The Glories of Mary.[7]

The Franciscan Crown

In 1263, Saint Bonaventure, Minister General of the Order, encouraged liturgical devotion honoring the mystery of the Visitation. The Franciscan rosary, or as it is properly called, the Franciscan Crown, developed in early part of the 15th century, and was officially established in 1422. The Franciscan Crown consists of seven decades of Hail Marys, each preceded by an Our Father and followed by a Glory Be, and completed by two more Hail Marys after the 7th decade to complete the number 72 which is thought to be the age of Mary at the time of her Assumption. The Crown recalls the seven joys of Mary and how she responded to the grace of God in her life. In addition to developing this Marian devotion, the Franciscans are credited with adding the final words to the Hail Mary: Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners (from the writings of St. Bernardino of Siena) now and at the hour of our death (from the writings of the Servite Fathers and the Roman Breviary).'

St. Anthony's Rosary

The Irish (specifically the Gaelic-speaking) and their descendants have a tradition of saying thirteen Aves rather than ten, in honour of St. Anthony of Padua, whose feast day is 13 June. Also called the St. Anthony Chaplet, its prayers are accompanied by a poem called the Miraculous Responsory or si quideris, written by Saint Bonaventure. Like most chaplets, it is available at Catholic book shops.

Rosary of the Holy Wounds

Part of a series of articles on
Roman Catholic
Devotions to Christ

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Overview of Devotions
Holy Face
Sacred Heart
Divine Mercy
Eucharistic adoration
Holy Name
Acts of Reparation
Holy Wounds
Rosary of Holy Wounds
Stations of the Cross
Precious Blood
Infant of Prague

Prayers to Jesus
Anima ChristiShoulder WoundSacred Heart prayerYou are ChristVianney's prayerPerboyre's prayer Montfort's prayerCrucifix prayer

The Rosary of the Holy Wounds was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century by the Venerable Sister Mary Martha Chambon, a lay Roman Catholic Sister of the Monastery of the Visitation Order in Chambery, France.

This rosary specifically meditates on the wounds of Jesus Christ as an Act of Reparation for the sins of the world. This rosary also focuses on prayers for souls in purgatory. Sister Mary Martha attributed the following purpose for the rosary to Jesus: "you must not forget ... the souls in Purgatory, as there are but few who think of their relief . . . The Holy Wounds are the treasure of treasures for the souls in Purgatory."[8][9][10]

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was introduced in the early 1930s by Saint Faustina Kowalska, a nun who lived in Płock, Poland. The theme for this prayer is mercy and it focuses on three forms of mercy: to obtain mercy, to trust in Christ's mercy, and to show mercy to others. In 2000, Pope John Paul II ordained the Sunday after Easter Divine Mercy Sunday, where Roman Catholics remember the institution of the Sacrament of Penance.[11]

Both Saint Faustina Kowalska and the Venerable Sister Mary Martha Chambon attributed their prayers to Jesus as part of their visions of Jesus Christ.

The Bridgettine Rosary

The rosary as prayed by the Bridgettine order comprises 7 Our Fathers (to honour the joys and sorrows of the Blessed Virgin), and 63 Hail Marys, one for each (presumed) year of her life before the Assumption. The layout of the beads is a loop containing six decades, together with a short string of beads leading to the crucifix.[12] An example of the Bridgettine rosary may be seen depicted on the statue of the Crowned Virgin in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Trinitarian Rosary

This term is used for at least two different rosaries or chaplets.

The Trisagion Rosary of the Trinitarian Order

First, it can refer to the special rosary or chaplet used by the Trinitarian Order (the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives), which was founded in France in 1198. From an early date, the Trinitarians have used a form of prayer based on the Trisagion (sometimes Trisagium or Triagion, from the Greek “thrice” + ”holy”). This is a Byzantine prayer in praise of the Holy Trinity: its simplest form is “Holy God, Holy Strong One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.”[13]

The Trisagion rosary (usually called a chaplet) has three groups of nine beads. In reciting the chaplet, each group is preceded by the Trisagion and the Pater Noster. A special prayer is said on each of the nine beads: “To you be praise, glory, and thanksgiving for ever, blessed Trinity. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of power and might; heaven and earth are full of your glory.” Each group of nine prayers is followed by a Gloria Patri ("Glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit..."), and the whole ends with a closing prayer.[14]

As with other rosaries that are special to a particular religious Order, its history is rather cloudy. The first question is how long the Trinitarians have used the Trisagion and its associated prayers. The prayers themselves are quite old, and may well have come to the Trinitarians from Byzantium through their connections in the Middle East. The Trisagion itself can be traced at least as far back as the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) and perhaps further.[15] The use of these particular prayers by the Trinitarians may very well date back to the beginnings of the Order.

A separate question is when beads began to be used to count these prayers. Reciting a certain number of prayers does not necessarily imply the presence of beads -- prayers can be counted on one's fingers, by moving a peg from one hole to another, and so forth. It is possible that Trisagion beads were first seen in the 14th or 15th century -- when other rosaries became popular, suggesting the concept of using beads as counters.

Other Trinitarian Rosaries

Secondly, the term "Trinitarian rosary" can refer to any set of Christian prayer beads on which prayers to the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are said.

A trinitarian rosary of this type can comprise the same basic form as the traditional Marian rosary with 5 decades of 10 beads and introductory prayers, et cetera. Or such prayers may be said with the Anglican or other variants of the beads.

There are several of these trinitarian rosaries, all of relatively recent origin. One, for instance, uses the prayer: "Almighty God, Almighty God, Heavenly King, You are the Lord! Blessed art thou in heaven, and blessed is thy sacred word! Holy Jesus, eternally begotten son of God, send your Holy Spirit upon us and kindle in our hearts the fire of your divine love!".[16][17]

Rosaries in other Christian traditions

While use of the Roman Catholic rosary has gradually been adopted by many Eastern Catholics, many Eastern Catholic churches have undertaken a campaign of liturgical de-Latinization, removing imported devotions and practices (such as the rosary) that have obscured and replaced traditional and authentic devotions and practices of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Subsequently, the most common prayer used in the Eastern Christian Churches (Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic) is the Jesus Prayer, which makes use of the more ancient prayer rope (chotki), a knotted rope (rather than beads) joined together with a knotted cross. The prayer rope is not as fixed in form as the Western rosary (it may have 10, 33, 50, 100, or 500 knots on it), and it normally makes use of beads only as dividers between sections. The Eastern prayer rope is often divided into decades, but it may also be divided into sections of 25 or some other number, or not divided at all.

Among High Church Anglicans, Anglican prayer beads are sometimes used. This set is also known as the "Anglican Rosary"[18] or as "Christian prayer beads," the latter term arising from the popularity this set has gained among Christians of various other traditions. Anglican bead sets contain 28 beads in groups of seven called "weeks," with an additional large bead before each. In total, there are 33 beads representing the years of Jesus' life on Earth. A number of Anglicans use the Jesus Prayer, just like the Eastern Christians, but there are no Church-appointed prayers or meditations in the Anglican practice. Some Anglo-Catholics use the traditional Roman Catholic rosary.

A recent creation known as the Ecumenical Miracle Rosary uses the same beads as the Roman Catholic rosary but with different prayers and with mysteries which focus on Christ's miracles.


  1. Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 087973910X
  2. Catholic encyclopedia
  3. History of the Rosray
  4. "CONSUEVERUNT ROMANI Pope Pius V". Retrieved 2007-02-10. 
  5. Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 087973910X page 123
  6. EWTN The Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel
  7. Liguori, Alphonsus. The Glories of Mary. (trans. from Italian) London: Redemptorist Fathers, St. Mary's. (1852) pp. 611-614
  8. Legionnaires Praying for the Clergy
  9. Michael Freze, 1993, Voices, Visions, and Apparitions, OSV Publishing ISBN 087973454X
  10. G. P. Geoghegan, 2006, A Collection of My Favorite Prayers ISBN 9781411694576
  11. Vatican web page for Saint Faustina Kowalska
  12. "New Advent CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Use of Beads at Prayers". 
  13. "Agios O Theos". 
  14. "Chaplet of the Holy Trinity". 
  15. "Agios O Theos". 
  16. "Non-Marian, Trinitarian Rosary". 
  17. "Another Trinitarian Rosary". 


Anne Cecil Kerr, 1937, Sister Mary Martha Chambon of the Visitation B. Herder Publishing.

Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, 2003, Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul Marian Press, ISBN 094420337X