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May 4, 2020

How to Pray the Rosary (Everything You Need to Know)

Jeannette Williams

You may think the Rosary is too complicated, but you can pray it very simply. The Rosary is a prayer to a loving mother. She will be happy to hear from you, even if you don’t pray all the prayers! 

During the Rosary you are asking for Mary’s intercession with her son. And in meditating on the mysteries, you are thinking more deeply about the life of Christ and seeing it through the eyes of his mother, which will help you grow in your love of Jesus.

The Basics of the Rosary

The majority of the Rosary is simple and repetitive. For the time being, let’s forget about the opening and closing prayers.

For the five decades of the Rosary, pray an Our Father on each of the five large beads and the Hail Mary on the smaller beads, grouped in 10s. See the end of the article for the words of the prayers.

Over time, two prayers have been added after finishing the 10 Hail Mary’s: a Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer (requested by Our Lady during the Fatima apparitions in 1917).

If you do nothing else, pray these prayers: 

  • 1 Our Father
  • 10 Hail Mary’s
  • 1 Glory Be
  • 1 Fatima prayer
  • Repeat 5 times. 

You can spread out the decades throughout the day, if that makes it easier for you.

Pray the Mysteries

The mysteries are what make the Rosary come alive. I’m not saying that the effort you put forth and the prayers themselves don’t have value—they certainly do! But the mysteries unleash the power of the Rosary to transform us. See the list below, and the suggested days for each.

Introductory Prayers

Introductory prayers are said on the beads on the chain holding the crucifix. These are:

On the crucifix: The Apostles Creed 

On the next bead: Our Father

On the three beads together: 3 Hail Mary’s (“for the virtues of faith, hope, and charity”)

Before beginning the first decade: Glory Be

Concluding Prayers

Over time, concluding prayers have been added to the Rosary, going back over the beads on the chain holding the crucifix. There are variations, with people adding favorite prayers, but here are the usual prayers: 

On the large bead: Hail, Holy Queen (and Rosary prayer)

On the three beads together: For the intentions of the Holy Father: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Some people will also say a prayer to St. Michael.

Start Where You Can and Grow from There

Like I said, if the Rosary is new to you, start with the 5 decades and meditate on your favorite mysteries. As you get more comfortable, add the introductory prayers, and at least end with the prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions. 

By praying for the pope’s intentions, you can receive an indulgence for the poor souls in purgatory. It’s a Spiritual Work of Mercy to pray for the dead.

If you want some ideas to help you concentrate while praying the Rosary, see Tips and Saintly Wisdom for Praying the Rosary Well

I’ll end with the words of St. Bernardine of Siena: 

“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you!… She is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!”

Rosary Prayers

The Basic Prayers

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.

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.

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.

Fatima prayer

O my Jesus,

Forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell.

Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.

Mysteries of the Rosary

Joyful Mysteries

  • The Annunciation (the angel came to Mary)
  • The Visitation (Mary visits Elizabeth)
  • The Nativity (Jesus is born)
  • The Presentation (Jesus is presented to God in the temple)
  • The Finding of Jesus in the Temple (after Jesus was “lost” for 3 days)

Luminous Mysteries (added by St. John Paul II in 2002)

  • The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
  • The Wedding Feast at Cana
  • The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven
  • The Transfiguration
  • The Institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood

Sorrowful Mysteries

  • The Agony in the Garden
  • The Scourging at the Pillar
  • The Crowning with Thorns
  • The Carrying of the Cross
  • The Crucifixion

Glorious Mysteries

  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension into Heaven
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
  • The Crowning of Mary Queen of Heaven

Suggested days for each mystery:

  • Monday – Joyful
  • Tuesday – Sorrowful
  • Wednesday – Glorious
  • Thursday – Luminous
  • Friday – Sorrowful
  • Saturday – Joyful
  • Sunday – Glorious

Introductory Prayer

Apostle’s 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; on the third day he rose again from the dead; 

he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; 

from there he will 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.

Closing Prayers

Hail, Holy Queen (and Rosary prayer)

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. 

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; 

to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. 

Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; 

and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy 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.

Let us pray. 

O God, whose only-begotten Son, by his life, death and resurrection, 

has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, 

grant, we beseech thee, that by meditating upon 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.

You May Also Like:

Pocket Guide to the Rosary [book]

Mary’s May Crowning Series [blog posts focusing on mysteries with Mary present]

Pray the Rosary series

Pray with the CFRs: The Holy Rosary

Jeannette Williams is the part-time communications coordinator of St. Jude Church and Shrine in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and a freelance writer and blogger. The mother of six, she homeschooled the first five through high school in the classical tradition, while the youngest now attends a new classical high school, Martin Saints, in Oreland, Pennsylvania. Jeannette’s greatest passion, besides her family, is to study the Catholic Faith and share it with others. When she’s not writing, Jeannette enjoys studying Spanish and Japanese, gardening, and spending time with her husband and children.

Featured photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash

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