mysteries of lightdrawn from Jesus' public life: his baptism in the Jordan, his self-manifestation at the wedding at Cana, his proclamation of the kingdom of God, the Transfiguration, and his institution of the Eucharist.
As one dwells on a mystery in thought one recites prayers—the Lord's Prayer (or Our Father; Paternoster) once, Hail Mary (Ave Maria) 10 times, and Glory Be to the Father (Gloria Patri) once. Count is kept by slipping beads through the fingers; the beads have no other significance. The usual string—formerly called the chaplet—has five sets of 10 beads (decades); between the decades a single bead is set apart, for the Glory of one mystery and the Our Father of the next. There is a pendant with crucifix and beads for introductory prayers.
The rosary is often said in common, but it remains an individual prayer. Its popularity is often ascribed to the combination of simplicity of method with solidity of subject matter. In one form or another it has been in use some 600 years. There is a feast of the rosary, Oct. 7, on the anniversary of the victory of the Christians over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto. According to tradition, St. Dominic received the rosary from the Virgin Mary in a vision.
See F. B. Thornton, This Is the Rosary (1961).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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