The picture below depicts one way to go around the rosary beads when praying the Holy Rosary.

enter image description here

If a child were to ask, as they typical do, as to why Catholics when praying the Holy Rosary customarily go around the rosary beads one way rather than the other - if that's what they do, how would one answer? Is there a customary way to go around rosary beads? If yes, what is the reason for that order?

A question in the "same series" as: Is there a particular order in lighting candles on an advent wreath?

3 Answers 3


Either direction is acceptable

This might be semi-authoritative since it comes straight from the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States. Up near Green Bay, Wisconsin there is an outdoor rosary walk with the mysteries visible for people who traverse in a right-hand or left-hand direction.

For instance, when you walk around clockwise, you see 1st glorious mystery, 1st luminous. Etc... On a big banner, but if you look at the backside of the banner, its got 5th glorious, 5th luminous, etc... So no matter whether you walk around clockwise or counter-clockwise, you will see the mysteries in their proper order. Which I remarked to my wife, "that's mighty clever, those Catholics are always thinking..."

  • Clockwise, very interesting! Just the counter of the direction shown in the question.
    – user13992
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 4:21
  • 1
    @fms, it really didn't matter, because the mysteries were in order either way you went around the path
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 5:07
  • Thank you for clarifying. It appears the answer is it doesn't matter.
    – user13992
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 5:15
  • 1
    being left handed, I tend to do things backwardser of most people anyways :-) Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 5:27
  • 2
    Since the Rosary is basically symmetrical and loose, there isn't any noticeable difference between going "clockwise" or "counterclockwise." There is just the part above your forefinger and the part that hangs down :). Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 20:34

The spacing on the beads are the same in both directions. You do not even need beads, I use an app on my phone, I'm techno savy. You can use your fingers and keep track of the mysteries that way. I have prayed the Rosary many times before Mass, hardly anyone has the beads as they pray together. There are many ways to pray the Rosary. Many things to contemplate when doing it. It is a method of Prayer not a system of Prayer.

  • 1
    Thank you for our answer but I was thinking in terms of CW vs CCW or genuflecting with the right knee, making the sign of the cross or shaking hands with the right hand etc.
    – user13992
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 1:07

The question is not clear. If you hold the beads flat, there's a "direction" ( e.g. clockwise), but if they hang down e.g. while standing to pray, how would you tell which way is which? There's never an order marked on the beads. It's not even particularly strict that one must say the 3 Aves, Paternoster and Creed before the decades, as opposed to after.

You must log in to answer this question.