The Holy Rosary prayer became known in the Late Middle Ages thanks to the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary founded by St. Peter of Verona, a Saint of the Order of the Friars Preachers.
In the Middle Ages, it was customary to leave wreaths of roses under the statues of Madonna as a symbol of the “beautiful” and “scented” prayers directed to Her. From this common practice it took place the idea of using a chaplet of beads to guide the meditation. The use of this “chaplet” gave to the monk of the Cistercian Orderthe idea of drawing up a new prayer, named “Rosary”, symbolizing mystical roses to be offered to the Virgin Mary.
In the III Century, hermit monks were already used to count the prayers as knots to a thread. Therefore, the tradition of using the rosary to count prayers spread over time, thanks also to the diffusion of the “Hail Mary” around the VII Century.
The chaplet of the rosary usually has a total of 50 beads divided in sets of 10. The circular movement from one bead to the other symbolizes the spiritual path of a Christian toward God: a long return
The Rosary is a devotional prayer typical of the Latin ritual of the Catholic Church, but, since it does not belong to the Liturgy, it has been changed over centuries. The prayer of the Rosary is associated to the possibility to receive mercy and blessings from the Virgin Mary.
The whole Rosary is composed of 15 or 20 “mysteries”: 5 “joyful mysteries”, 5 “sorrowful mysteries”, 5 “glorious
mysteries”, to which Saint Jean Paul II added 5 electives “mysteries of light”.
These “mysteries” represent events and important moments of the
life of Jesus Christ and Mary and they are grouped in so-called “chaplets”.
The “chaplets”, in turn, comprehend the meditations of the relative set of mysteries. Indeed, every chaplet includes the meditation of five mysteries and the recitation of fifty Hail Mary.
The Holy Rosary is a communitarian prayer although it can be recited individually.
It can be recited in various ways:
- following the traditional form, a chaplet is recited every day meditating on the corresponding mysteries;
- in the short version some prayers are omitted;
- in the World Mission Rosary every decade is associated to a continent of the World, at the end of the recitation of each, a prayer of a Saint Missionary of that continent is also recited;
- the Meditated Rosary guides the devotee in the contemplation of the mysteries.
The first rosaries were made using mahogany seeds or pearls, then over centuries many different materials were used, such as precious metals and stones, or wood and hard stones.