In the 16th century, Pope Pius V established a 15-Mysteries Rosary comprising of Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. In the year 2002, Pope John Paul II added five Luminous Mysteries depicting key points of the Public Life of Jesus. There are different schools of thought as to whether the Luminous Mysteries form integral part of the devotion of Rosary, or not. The points of objection include a deviation from the matching of numbers of the Rosary beads used for three sets of Mysteries in 15 decades, that is 150 with the number of Psalms, vis-a-vis the number of beads now required to be used, that is 200, in case the complete Rosary is recited in one go.

My question therefore is: What is the official stand of Catholic Church on the inclusion of Luminous Mysteries as integral part of the devotion of Rosary?

1 Answer 1


What is the official stand of Catholic Church on Luminous Mysteries of Rosary?

On October 16th, 2002, Pope John Paul II, issued his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, in which he announced a new set of mysteries for the Most Holy Rosary: the Luminous Mysteries!

Pope John Paul II leaves it to the faithful to decide whether they wish to include these new mysteries into their routine of praying the rosary or to simply remain praying the traditional rosary with it’s 15 mysteries.

In this Apostolic Letter, Pope John Paul II introduced the "Mysteries of Light" or Luminous Mysteries into the cycle of the mysteries of the life of Christ that are to be contemplated while praying the rosary. These five "luminous mysteries" focus devotion on the events of the public ministry of Jesus Christ:

  • (1) his baptism in the Jordan,

  • (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana,

  • (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God,

  • (4) his Transfiguration, and

  • (5) his institution of the Eucharist.

According to current practice, Monday and Thursday are dedicated to the “joyful mysteries”, Tuesday and Friday to the “sorrowful mysteries”, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday to the “glorious mysteries”. Where might the “mysteries of light” be inserted? If we consider that the “glorious mysteries” are said on both Saturday and Sunday, and that Saturday has always had a special Marian flavour, the second weekly meditation on the “joyful mysteries”, mysteries in which Mary's presence is especially pronounced, could be moved to Saturday. Thursday would then be free for meditating on the “mysteries of light”.

This indication is not intended to limit a rightful freedom in personal and community prayer, where account needs to be taken of spiritual and pastoral needs and of the occurrence of particular liturgical celebrations which might call for suitable adaptations. What is really important is that the Rosary should always be seen and experienced as a path of contemplation. In the Rosary, in a way similar to what takes place in the Liturgy, the Christian week, centred on Sunday, the day of Resurrection, becomes a journey through the mysteries of the life of Christ, and he is revealed in the lives of his disciples as the Lord of time and of history. - Rosarium Virginis Mariae

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