Ways to Pray Series

Praying the Rosary

Why Pray the Rosary:

Why do Catholics pray the rosary? And do you have to be Catholic to pray the rosary?

Rosary means “Crown of Roses”. Each Hail Mary prayer represents a rose and praying a complete rosary has then created a circle of roses, a crown of roses. Roses have always been a sign of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Mary was known for pondering everything in her heart. The rosary is a way to get out of our heads by repeating rote prayers, in order to ponder mysteries in our hearts like Mary did. According to oral history, Mary gave the rosary to St. Dominic in a vision in the 13th century. Along with teaching him how to pray it, she made 15 promises to those who pray it.

You do not need to be Catholic to pray it. Since the prayers and mysteries come from the Bible, they would be meaningful to any Christian. But if you do not want to pray it with Christian prayers, then see Other Ways to Use Prayer Beads at the bottom.

How to Pray the Rosary:

A rosary consists of a cross followed by a large bead, 3 small beads, another large bead, and then 5 decades. Each decade consists of one big bead followed by 10 small beads. Simply reciting the prayers, typically takes 20 minutes. But if you want to meditate on mysteries longer, than you could take 30 to 40 minutes. When just beginning to pray the rosary, I recommend following an app on your phone (rosary is included in the app) or buy a rosary and follow along with a youtube video. (see below)

Typically people like to pray the rosary for an intention. For example, when we were taking family vacations growing up, we would pray a rosary in our minivan for safe travels. You can ask for one or more intentions or leave it open to God to decide. You can pray the same intention for nine days with the rosary in what is called a Novena. Read more about Novenas here.

  1. Make the Sign of the Cross “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” and say the “Apostles’ Creed”

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again 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.

2. Say the “Our Father” on the first big bead

Our Father, Who are in Heaven; hallowed be Your name; Your kingdom come; Your 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.

3. Say three “Hail Marys” for Faith, Hope, and Charity on the next 3 little beads

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

4. Say the “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.

5. Announce the First Mystery (choose from the list of mysteries below) and then say the “Our Father”

6. Say ten “Hail Marys” on the little beads while meditating on the Mystery

7. Say the “Glory Be”. Announce the Next Mystery; then say the “Our Father”

Repeat these steps (6 through 8) as you continue through the remaining Mysteries.

8. Say the closing prayers: the “Hail Holy Queen” or “Memorare”

Hail, Holy Queen:
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 towards 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.

The Memorare:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, and sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee I come; before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but, in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

To close: Make the “Sign of the Cross”

The Mysteries:


  1. The Annunciation to Mary
  2. The Visitation of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth
  3. The Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ
  4. The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
  5. The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple


  1. The Agony of Christ in the Garden
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar
  3. The Crowning with Thorns
  4. The Carrying of the Cross
  5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord on the Cross


  1. The Resurrection of Our Lord
  2. The Ascension of Our Lord
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (Pentecost)
  4. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven
  5. The Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven and Earth


  1. The Baptism of Jesus
  2. The Wedding Feast at Cana
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
  4. The Transfiguration on the Mountain
  5. The Establishment of the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist)

Other Variations:

7 Sorrows Rosary

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Other Ways to use the Prayer Beads:

Pray like a Desert Father: They used to use prayer ropes with knots to keep track of the number of prayers that they said. Some used it to pray the 150 Psalms…one Psalm for each little knot/bead (50 psalms going around the rosary one time).

Pray it like a Mala: Repeat the same mantra on each bead to lead yourself into a state of meditation.

Pray intentions: On each small bead ask or petition God for a different intention. For the first decade pray intentions for yourself, the second decade pray for people in your family or close friends, for the third decade pray for the needs of your local community, for the fourth decade pray for the needs of the country, for the fifth decade pray for the needs of the world.

Videos and Apps:

Free Apps:

Mary App

Rosary Pro – offers many languages

Touch Rosary (for Android)

Laudate– a full Catholic app including many prayers, scripture passages, and other features


16 minute Joyful Mysteries Rosary with images

Joyful Mysteries Rosary with scripture reading of the mysteries and a song at the beginning of each decade.

Joyful Mysteries Rosary with movie clips

How to Make a Beaded Rosary or How to make a Rosary with just a string

About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and curiosities with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.

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