This is a Roman Catholic instrument, composed of a number of larger and smaller beads strung on a cord, which serves among Romanists to aid in the repeating of a definite number of Paternosters and Ave Marias. In its wider meaning the word denotes the worship in which the rosary is employed. The custom of repeating the Lord's Prayer a number of times originated among the early hermits and monks, and it is stated by Palladius (Λαυσιακά, cap. 35) and Sozomen (Hist. 6, 29) that the abbot Paul of the desert of Pherme repeated the Pater noster 300 times, and at each repetition dropped a small stone into his lap. The Hail Mary was added in the 11th century, but did not attain its completed form until the 16th. A combination of the Lord's Prayer with the Credo and the angelical greeting in this worship occurs as early as 1196 in the Statuta Communia of bishop Odo of Paris.
The rosary is accordingly of modern origin, and all opinions which assign to it a high antiquity are false. Some modern inquirers hold that it was brought from the East by returning Crusaders, since it is found among Mohammedans and Brahmins also; but it would seem to have had an independent origin in the West as well. It was first used by the Dominican monks, though it is by no means certain that it was introduced by St. Dominic himself.
As many as twenty forms of rosary devotions have been enumerated by Schulting in his Bibl. Eccles. 1, 3, 205. The more familiarly known are as follows:
1. The complete (or Dominican) rosary, consisting of fifteen decades of small Mary-beads, alternating with fifteen Pater noster beads, so that ten Hail Marys are said after each Lord's Prayer. This rosary is accordingly called the Psalterium Marioe.
2. The ordinary rosary (rosarium) has five decades of Mary beads and five Pater noster beads, in all fifty-five beads. Three repetitions equal rosary No. 1.
3. The intermediate rosary has sixty-three Mary beads and seven Pater noster beads, denoting the sixty-three years of life which the legend assigns to the Virgin. The Franciscans repeat seventy-two Hail Marys, because they believe that the Virgin lived seventy-two years.
4. The smaller rosary has three decades of Mary beads and three Pater noster beads, signifying the years of Christ's life on earth.
5. The angelical rosary is similar to No. 4, but requires a single recital of the Hail Mary with each decade, and for each of the nine remaining beads the Sanctus ("Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth! Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua, Hosanna in excelsis! Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Hosanna in excelsis!") with the lesser doxology ("Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto!").
6. The crown (capellaria, corona) has thirty-three Pater noster beads, indicative of the years of Christ's earthly life, and five Mary beads to denote the number of his wounds. A rosary composed of twelve Ave Marias and three Pater nosters has also been termed the crown in recent times (Binterim, Denkw. VII, 1, 105).
The Officium Laicorum is composed only of Pater nosters, and cannot therefore be reckoned among the rosaries.
The devotion begins with the sign of the cross, after which the worshipper grasps the cross depending from the cord, repeats the Apostles' Creed, and prays the Lord's Prayer with three Hail Marys. A corresponding form serves as the conclusion. With the Dominican rosary is connected the contemplation of the so called mysteries, according to which the rosary is characterized as joyful, sorrowful, or glorious.
The joyful rosary embraces the five mysteries of –
1. The annunciation of our Lady when the Son of God was conceived.
2. The visitation of Elisabeth.
3. The nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. The presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
5. The finding of our Lord in the Temple among the doctors. The sorrowful rosary embraces 1. The prayer of our Lord in the garden.
2. The whipping him at the pillar.
3. The crowning him with a crown of thorns.
4. His carrying of the cross to Mount Calvary.
5. His crucifixion and death on the cross. The glorious rosary contains 1. The resurrection of our Lord.
2. His ascension into heaven.
3. The coming of the Holy Ghost.
4. The assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
5. Her coronation above all angels and saints.
Each of these fifteen mysteries is appended to the words "Jesus Christ" in the Ave Maria, and is thus repeated ten times.
The rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary is altogether the most popular form of devotion among Roman Catholics. It has been strongly recommended by many popes, who have granted great indulgences to those that practice it. The five Joyful Mysteries are said on Mondays and Thursdays through the year, and daily from the first Sunday in Advent to the Feast of the Purification. The five Sorrowful Mysteries are said on Thursdays and Fridays through the year, and daily from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. The five Glorious Mysteries are said on ordinary Sundays and Wednesdays and Saturdays through the year, and daily from Easter Sunday to Trinity Sunday. The manner of saying the rosary on the beads may be understood by the accompanying cut, with the following directions (see Barnum, Romanism, p. 486):
On the cross say the Apostles' Creed. On the next large bead say the Lord's Prayer. On the next small bead say the Hail Mary, thus: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Who may increase our faith. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen." On the second small bead repeat the Hail Mary, substituting for the above italicized words, "Who may strengthen our hope." On the third small bead repeat the Hail Mary, substituting in the same place, "Who may enliven our charity." Then, and at the end of every decade, say, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen." On the next large bead, and on every large bead, say the Lord's Prayer. In saying the ten Hail Marys for the first Joyful Mystery, substitute for the above italicized clause, "Who was made man for us;" in the second, "Whom thou didst carry to St. Elisabeth's;" in the third, "Who was born in a stable for us;" in the fourth, "Who was presented in the Temple for us;" in the fifth, "Whom thou didst find in the Temple." At the end of the five Joyful Mysteries, and at the end of the five Sorrowful and five Glorious Mysteries, say the Salve Regina (=Hail, Queen), thus: "Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, O most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile is ended, show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement! O pious! O sweet Virgin Mary! "V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. "R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ." In saying the five Sorrowful Mysteries, the clauses substituted in the Hail Marys for the italicized clause are:
(1) "Who sweated blood for us;" (2) "Who was scourged for us;" (3) "Who was crowned with thorns for us;" (4) "Who carried the heavy cross for us;" (5) "Who was crucified and died for us." In saying the five Glorious Mysteries, substitute for the italicized clause:
(1) "Who arose from the dead;" (2) "Who ascended into heaven;" (3) "Who sent the Holy Ghost;" (4) "Who assumed thee [or took thee up] into heaven;" (5) "Who crowned thee in heaven." The term rosary is variously explained by Roman Catholic writers: as derived from Rosa mystica, an ecclesiastical predicate of the Virgin; from St. Rosalia, who is represented with a wreath formed of gold and roses; from the fact that the beads are made of rosewood, etc. Steitz (in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.) suggests that it may be derived from a rose garden (rosarium), after the manner in which devotional manuals were in the Middle Ages termed Hortulus Animoe.