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[rose garden], prayer of Roman Catholics, in which beads are used as counters. The term, applied also to the beads, is extended to Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist prayers that use beads. The traditional Catholic rosary is a series of 15 meditations on events (mysteries) in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The joyful mysteries are (Luke 1–2) the Annunciation, the Visitation, the birth of Jesus, His presentation at the Temple, and the finding of the child Jesus among the doctors. The sorrowful mysteries are (Mat. 26–27) the agony of Jesus in the garden, His scourging, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion. The glorious mysteries are the Resurrection (Luke 24), the Ascension (Acts 1.1—11), the descent of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2), the assumption of the Virgin, and her coronation as Queen of Heaven. In 2002, Pope John Paul II proposed the addition of five "mysteries of light" drawn 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 LepantoLepanto, battle of
, Oct. 7, 1571, naval battle between the Christians and Ottomans fought in the strait between the gulfs of Pátrai and Corinth, off Lepanto (Návpaktos), Greece. The fleet of the Holy League commanded by John of Austria (d.
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. According to tradition, St. DominicDominic, Saint
, 1170?–1221, Castilian churchman, named Domingo de Guzmán, founder of the Dominicans. He studied at Palencia and became a canon, then prior of canons, of the cathedral of Osma. He and his bishop went (c.
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 received the rosary from the Virgin Mary in a vision.


See F. B. Thornton, This Is the Rosary (1961).

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A rosary that belonged to an American soldier who was held captive during the Vietnam war. The Art Archive/US Naval Museum Washington/The Art Archive.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Roman Catholic tradition has developed prayers and meditations designed to immerse the believer in the mysteries of the faith. Sometimes various devices are used to aid in memorization. Perhaps the best-known prayer and memory device is the rosary and rosary beads.

John Renard, author of The Handy Religion Answer Book, summarizes the rosary meditation with these words:

A "decade" of the rosary corresponds to each of the fifteen mysteries commemorated in the rosary. Ten Hail Marys are said for each decade; they are preceded by an Our Father and followed by a Glory Be to the Father. While reciting a decade of the rosary, one is to meditate on the particular mystery for that decade and on its meaning for life. The entire rosary is divided into three chaplets: the joyful, the sorrowful, and the glorious mysteries. To "say a rosary" commonly means to pray one such chaplet of five mysteries. Commonly a chaplet is preceded by the recitation of the Apostles' Creed and of an Our Father and three Hail Marys. The Roman Catholic Church has long recommended this form of prayer as a convenient and effective way of meditating on the Christian mysteries of salvation.

The mysteries to be reflected on are the following.

The Joyful Mysteries The Annunciation The Visitation of Mary to her Cousin Elizabeth The Birth of Jesus Christ The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem

The Sorrowful Mysteries The Agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane The Scourging of Jesus at the Pillar The Crowning with Thorns The Carrying of the Cross The Crucifixion

The Glorious Mysteries The Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles The Assumption of Mary into Heaven The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Rosary is both a form of repeated prayer very popular in the Roman Catholic Church and a designation of the string of prayer beads used to assist the counting of the prayers. The use of such prayer beads is by no means confined to Catholicism or Christianity. Their origin predates Christianity in the Middle East, and Muslims, Buddhists, and various Esoteric groups also use them. The Catholic Rosary generally consists of 50 beads, with a marker bead dividing them into groups of ten.

In Catholicism, the Rosary derived from devotional practices relative to the reciting of the biblical Psalms, of which there are 150. The saying of a brief prayer thrice around the Rosary models the repeating of the Psalms. In actual practice, the Rosary is generally said using the prayer known as the Hail Mary. After saying it ten times, the Lord’s Prayer (the “Our Father”) is repeated. In the modern world, a large number of variations on the Rosary have appeared.

The present practice of saying the Rosary derives from events attributed to Saint Dominic (c. 1170–1221). At that time, the Dominican Order had been placed in charge of the Inquisition, whose first task was the suppression of the Albigensians, a Christian Esoteric group that had grown in strength to challenge the Catholic hegemony in southeastern France. In the initial stages of the reconversion campaign, Dominic is said (there being no contemporary accounts) to have entered into a period of intense prayer and penance. At one point he became unconscious and was visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary, who told him to preach the Psalter (i.e., the Rosary). His subsequent opening sermon in the Cathedral at Toulouse was marked by a variety of “supernatural” signs, including the movement of the arms of the Virgin on a painting that hung in a prominent place in the church.

The Rosary was popularized on a wider scale by Alain de la Roche (1428–1475), who in 1470 founded the Rosary Confraternity. Pope Leo X gave his official commendation to the Rosary in 1520, and its spread over the next centuries followed the establishment of the Dominicans around the world. It subsequently became the most popular form of expression of Catholic piety—apart from attendance at mass—and is widely used in connection with other forms, such as the wearing of SCAPULARS.


Beebe, Catherine. Saint Dominic and the Rosary. NewYork: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1956.
Gaffney, J. Patrick. The Rosary: A Gospel Prayer. Bay Shore, NY: Montfort Publications, 1990.
Gribble, Richard. The History and Devotion of the Rosary. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1992.
Winston-Allen, Anne. Stories of the Rose: The Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University, 1997.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


1. RC Church
a. a series of prayers counted on a string of beads, usually consisting of five or 15 decades of Aves, each decade beginning with a Paternoster and ending with a Gloria
b. a string of 55 or 165 beads used to count these prayers as they are recited
2. (in other religions) a similar string of beads used in praying
3. a bed or garden of roses
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


In the Western world, the rosary is generally though of as a Catholic prayer item. Catholics say the rosary by repetitive prayer and meditation, with the focus on the Blessed Mother or the Virgin Mary. However, most religions have their own prayer beads or rosary. A rosary consists of pearls or beads linked together by a thread. The Hindu rosary has 50 beads, the Buddhist rosary 108 beads, and the Muslim rosary 99 beads. In Africa, some groups have a rosary made out of human teeth. Prayers and specific meditations of each religion are different and there are theological reasons for the number of beads. Rosaries may come in different colors, sizes, and designs. However, the central purpose, which is to pray repetitively and to meditate, is the same across all religions that use them as a prayer tool. If you are seeing rosary beads in your dream it suggests that prayer and meditation is needed in your daily life. The unconscious generally provides us with helpful images that are not always difficult to understand. Thus, if you are not a prayerful person, the rosary in your dreams may be encouraging you to begin a more introspective and meditative life. Think about the rosary in your dream and try to decipher what it means to you and how you may incorporate meditation and peaceful reflection into your conscious life.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
After separating and purifying extracts from the rosary pea, Kinghorn thought he and his colleagues would find glycyrrhizin, a sugar compound in licorice, but instead they found new sweet compounds called abrusosides.
To obtain the needed regulatory approval to market the new sweeteners, Kinghorn believes they would have to be separated from other constituents in the rosary pea leaves.