Should a Rosary be made of six or twelve beaded sections?
Does it symbolize something specific or is it simply an object created to reflect something in the Catholic religion?
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What is the purpose of the rosary and why do some differ in the amount of beads they contain
The traditional 15 mystery rosary containing 150 Hail Marys symbolizes or represents the 150 Psalms in the Old Testament. In the Middle Ages many could not read. Thus as the intellectuals of the Church could pray the 150 Psalms, the poor and uneducated prayed the Rosary in its’ place.
Why do we pray the rosary?
The simple answer is: Catholics pray the rosary because it’s a powerful prayer to God, through His Most Holy Mother, Mary and a great way to contemplate the sacred mysteries of our faith.
Praying the rosary has been a tradition in the Church for a long time. It’s a bit fuzzy who made it more formal; some say it was St. Dominic and others say it wasn’t. What really matters is that this prayer is super powerful.
The rosary begins with the recitation of the Apostle’s Creed, an Our Father, three Hail Mary’s and a Glory Be. Then there are five decades which each begin and end with an Our Father and Glory Be, and have ten Hail Mary’s in between. When you pray the rosary, you meditate on the events in Jesus’ life. There are the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries.
Rosaries are not just decorations. Battles have been won because people prayed the rosary! There have been hearts converted, and impossible intentions answered too. Your life can only be blessed if you start praying the rosary. - Why Do Catholics Pray the Rosary?
That’s right battles have been won praying the Rosary.
On October 7th, 1571 a fleet of ships assembled by the combined forces of Naples, Sardinia, Venice, the Papacy, Genoa, Savoy and the Knights Hospitallers fought an intense battle with the fleet of the Ottoman Empire. The battle took place in the Gulf of Patras located in western Greece. Though outnumbered by the Ottoman forces, the so-called “Holy League” possessed of superior firepower would win the day. This victory would severely curtail attempts by the Ottoman Empire to control the Mediterranean, causing a seismic shift in international relations from East to West. In some respects, and I do not want this claim to be overstated, the world that we know came into being with this victory. This event is known to history as the “Battle of Lepanto.”
Pope Pius V, whose treasury bankrolled part of this military endeavor, ordered the churches of Rome opened for prayer day and night, encouraging the faithful to petition the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the recitation of the Rosary. When word reached the Pope Pius of the victory of the Holy League, he added a new feast day to the Roman Liturgical Calendar- October 7th would henceforth be the feast of Our Lady of Victory. Pope Pius’ successor, Gregory XIII would change the name of this day to the feast of the Holy Rosary. - Our Lady of the Rosary and the Battle of Lepanto
Each decade (10 bead section) of the Rosary commemorates a certain mystery of the faith.
The Mysteries of the Rosary are meditations on episodes in the life and death of Jesus from the Annunciation to the Ascension and beyond. These are traditionally grouped by fives into themed sets known as the Joyful (or Joyous) Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries.
Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 2002), recommended an additional set called the Luminous Mysteries (or the "Mysteries of Light").
The Annunciation. Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
The Visitation. Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbour
The Nativity. Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty, Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of Riches, Love of the Poor
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: Gift of Wisdom and Purity of mind and body (Obedience)
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Fruit of the Mystery: True Conversion (Piety, Joy of Finding Jesus)
The Agony in the Garden. Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin, Uniformity with the Will of God
The Scourging at the Pillar. Fruit of the Mystery: Mortification (Purity)
The Crowning with Thorns. Fruit of the Mystery: Contempt of the World (Moral Courage)
The Carrying of the Cross. Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord. Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance in Faith, Grace for a Holy Death (Forgiveness)
The Resurrection. Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
The Ascension. Fruit of the Mystery: Hope, Desire to Ascend to Heaven
The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God, Holy Wisdom to know the truth and share it with everyone, Divine Charity, Worship of the Holy Spirit
The Assumption of Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Union with Mary and True Devotion to Mary
The Coronation of the Virgin. Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance and an Increase in Virtue (Trust in Mary's Intercession)
The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit, the Healer.
The Wedding at Cana. Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary, Understanding of the ability to manifest-through faith.
Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in God (Call of Conversion to the Messiah)
The Transfiguration. Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness.
The Institution of the Eucharist. Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration.
Satan truly hates this prayer.
The Rosary is a weapon. And it is a big chance of salvation. Satan, terrified, cursed it, when asked by exorcists what he was most afraid of. It has been the most important prayer in lives of many saints and the blessed. Probably also because it is an exceptionally difficult prayer.
“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world” – Blessed Pius IX said one day. This way the helmsman of the Catholic Church expressed the power of this prayer. After all it is not any abstract power but a totally real one. On many levels. It was probably the Rosary that rescued that Franciscan monastery in Hiroshima from destruction after its bombardment. The powerful bomb, which wreaked havoc in the city in 1945, turned out to be weak confronted with Our Lady’s intercession. On the other hand, one of the shepherd children to whom Our Lady of Fatima appeared, was saved precisely thanks to the Rosary. Mary, asked by Francisco if he would go to heaven, answered: “You must say many rosaries”. He obeyed the Queen of the world and moved the beads with his fingers regularly. - Rosary: a powerful weapon against Satan and a chance of salvation
Historically there are several different types of rosaries. A Rosary may be made of one; five; fifteen; or even Twenty beaded sections? These are only the most common or well known ones.
Many of us are familiar with the standard, five decade rosary, the centuries-old favorite devotion of Roman Catholics throughout the world. An ornate crucifix on a strand of rosary beads is an image that most associate with devout and faithful prayer. But sometimes confusion arises with other terms, such as “chaplet” or “Franciscan rosary.” Aren’t they all the same? Well, not quite. The term rosary is used for various sets of prayers counted on beads, but the prayers may vary from those used in the Dominican Rosary – the most widely known form of the rosary. Additionally, there are some rosaries that use the standard prayers, but serve a specific purpose, like the wedding rosary. Here is some clarification on some of those different rosary terms.
Five Decade Rosary
The five decade rosary is the one most people picture when they hear the word rosary. It consists of a crucifix, then a short set of 5 beads, for praying the Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be, and then a rosary center, followed by a loop of 5 decades (sets of ten beads) to count the Hail Marys prayed as one meditates on the mysteries of the rosary, with a bead for praying the Our Father between each decade. This traditional rosary (both the physical strand of beads and the prayer) is also known as the Dominican Rosary, due to St. Dominic’s role in encouraging and spreading devotion to the holy rosary at the request of the Blessed Mother.
The Franciscan Rosary can refer to two different rosaries associated with the Franciscan order. One is the Franciscan Crown, sometimes called a seven decade rosary. As the name suggests, it consists of 7 decades, rather than 5, plus two additional Hail Mary beads, for a total of 72 Hail Mary beads. When praying the Franciscan Crown rosary, one is to meditate on the seven joys of Mary, one joy per each decade. The seven joys are the Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Nativity of Jesus, Epiphany, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the Assumption & coronation of Mary. The Franciscan Rosary can also refer to a fifteen-decade rosary. Prior to 2002, when Pope John Paul II instituted the addition of the 5 luminous mysteries, the three sets of the mysteries of the rosary (glorious, sorrowful, and joyful) added up to a total of 15 mysteries. When one would pray a fifteen decade rosary, all fifteen mysteries were meditated upon. One could simply use a standard size rosary and continue around the loop to pray the full fifteen, or now twenty, decades, but a strand of rosary beads consisting of 15 decades of beads was common as well. Franciscan rosary is also a term that may be used to describe a standard five decade rosary with a Franciscan Tau cross in place of the crucifix many are accustomed to seeing.
The word chaplet simply comes from the French word for Rosary, which is chapelet, but the term has now come to be associated with specific sets of prayers, intended to ask the help of Mary, Jesus, or the saints. The standard five decade rosary is in fact a chaplet, but chaplets can vary in size, in pattern or grouping of beads, and in the prayers said on each bead. Typically, the basic prayers, such as the Hail Mary and Our Father are still recited, but chaplets commonly also include prayers to a specific image of Christ or Mary, a particular saint or angel, or a litany. Often, a chaplet is based on a certain intention, and so prayers to the patron saint of that intention or subject will be included.
One of the most common chaplets in recent years is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a chaplet Jesus instructed St. Maria Faustina to pray. It can be said anytime, especially for the dead or dying, but is also often said as part of the Divine Mercy novena which lasts from Good Friday to Divine Mercy Sunday. Another popular chaplet is the St. Joseph Chaplet, a set of prayers asking for the protection and intercession of St. Joseph.
Servite Chaplet or Rosary
Though it can be prayed by anyone, the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is especially connected to the Servite Order (also called Servants of Mary) and so this unique chaplet is commonly referred to as the Servite Rosary. Rather than decades, it consists of seven sets of seven beads; the sets of seven beads are called ‘weeks.’ Where the Franciscan Crown is focused on the seven joys of Mary, the Servite chaplet is focused specifically on the seven sorrows, or dolors, of Mary. These are the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of Jesus in the temple, Mary meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary, the Crucifixion, Jesus being taken down from the cross, and the laying of Jesus’s body in the tomb. The intent behind the Servite rosary is a devotion to Mary and the real pain she suffered in watching and sharing in Jesus’s pain, as we are called to share in Jesus’s suffering as well.
The wedding rosary, also called a lasso, or lazo, rosary is an over-sized rosary formed of two rosaries joined together at the center. The lasso rosary will share a crucifix, the first five beads, and the rosary center, with two, rather than one, loops of 5 decades each. The lasso rosary is part of a wedding ceremony, especially in Hispanic culture, where the loops of the rosary are put over the head of the bride and groom by the priest. This is symbolic of the joining of the two in God; their prayer lives will now be joined as well. Since the rosary is to be placed over the heads of both the bride and groom, the beads are typically oversized with larger spaces between beads in order to make the rosary long enough. While the use of the lasso rosary is largely figurative, it can also be used after the wedding for the husband and wife to pray the rosary together.
One Decade Rosary
The one decade rosary is, as it sounds, a rosary consisting of only one decade. They are sometimes called pocket rosaries or tenners. The idea behind the one decade rosary is that it is easy to carry around and use for prayer. After the crucifix on a one decade rosary, the initial 5 beads (for saying the Our Father, 3 Hail Marys and a Glory Be) are commonly represented with only one bead. After the rosary center is one decade, one set of ten beads. Some chaplet instructions come with a one decade rosary, and you can also use a one decade rosary to pray five, or even the full 20 mysteries, by circling around and using the ten beads to count for as many decades as needed. The one decade rosary closely resembles the prayer beads or prayer ropes which have been in use in the Eastern churches (both Catholic and Orthodox) from the earliest years.
There are also a few specific types of one decade rosaries:
This one decade rosary is the same as one described above but with one difference. Rather than a continuous unbroken loop, there is a clasp in the middle of the set of ten beads. This is in place so that the rosary may be hooked around a rearview mirror, and used for prayer in the car. The clasp is also useful for clipping the rosary to the steering wheel while praying so you do not drop the beads while driving.
This is a one decade rosary meant to be worn on the wrist. The bracelet varies slightly from the appearance of the standard one decade rosary. The rosary bracelet has one decade plus one Our Father bead, but rather than a center and a dangling crucifix, there will often be a miraculous medal and small, charm sized crucifix or cross hung together, or a cross shaped bead in place of the hanging crucifix. The bracelet is not intended to be a fashion statement but rather a way to easily bring a rosary with you, to be used for prayer. In the Middle Ages and beyond, it was not uncommon for people to hang a rosary from their waist, which they could easily reach for and use to pray with at any time. Many religious orders still do this, but for many other people, hanging a long rosary from their waist would be impractical. However, the rosary bracelet can be worn easily and so it can be used anywhere as a prayer aid.
Rosary Rings and Finger Rosaries
A rosary ring can be an actual wearable ring, or it can also be a small, mini one decade rosary to tuck into a wallet or purse, or on a key ring. These non-wearable rings are also called finger rosaries. Similar to the bracelet, there is a crucifix, followed by ten little bumps or beads for the decade. The idea of a small, easily transportable rosary one could reach for and pray with anytime stands true for the rosary ring as well. - What Are the Different Types of Rosaries?
On October 16, 2002 Pope St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariaeadded the Luminous Mysteries to the centuries old 15 decade Rosary, making it now a 20 decades long Rosary. Catholics are not obliged to say the 20 decade Rosary, but are freely encouraged to do so.