What do you know about the Rosary?

We play Catholic Trivia over on Instagram each month. These are the questions and answers to this month’s #4thFridayTrivia game.

The Rosary is a very Catholic prayer. In fact, the Rosary may even make some people nervous.

Are we praying to Mary? Worse, are we worshiping Mary? Saying vain repetition?

This article should lay some of your worries to rest, as well as introduce you to some interesting facts about the Rosary!

The Rosary is a very Biblical prayer. The prayers said, and the topics we meditate on are heavily derived from Scripture.

The main prayers that comprise the Rosary are:

  • The Apostle’s Creed
  • The Our Father
  • The Hail Mary
  • The Glory Be
  • The Salve Regina

We all recognize the Our Father as the prayer given to us by Jesus. As you read on, you’ll learn the origins of some of the other prayers of the Rosary.

As we pray these vocal prayers, they set the background for the heart of the rosary – meditation on “the mysteries” of the Rosary.

The Mysteries of the Rosary are events in the life of Jesus, from the Gospels. For the duration of an Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and a Glory Be (called a decade) we reflect on one of these mysteries.

The Rosary, rather than “praying to” Mary, or worshiping Mary, asks her intercession as we strive to grow closer to her son Jesus through meditation on his life.

Who better to help us grow closer to Jesus than his own mother?

Let’s see how much you know about the Rosary!

1. How many beads are there on a rosary?

There are 59 beads on a traditional rosary. The Rosary beads help us keep count of the prayers that we say, as we focus our attention on meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.

The Mysteries of the Rosary are arranged in groups of five. Often, we may pray one of these groups at a time.

The graphic below describes how to use the rosary beads, and which prayers are said on the beads.

Learn more about how to pray the Rosary here.

2. In Scripture, who first said the words, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee” – which we pray in the Hail Mary?

The angel Gabriel said these words in Luke 1:28 (translations vary)!

This is how Gabriel greeted Mary at the Annunciation – when he appeared to announce to her that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God.

Mary was greatly troubled at these words, but the angel calmed her fears.

When we say these words, we greet Mary with the same words an angel used to greet her.

We acknowledge her special role in salvation history – her role in carrying Jesus within her, nurturing him, and bringing him into the world as a little baby.

We also recognize that she was given special grace by God. Of course God would want his own mother to be full of grace!

Does the word “Hail” mean we are worshiping Mary?

Nope!

That word is simply an ancient but standard greeting. It’s no more a form of worship than saying, “Hello!”

3. In Scripture, who said the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” which we pray during the Hail Mary?

Mary’s cousin Elizabeth said these words in Luke 1:42 (translations vary)!

When Mary heard that her cousin was also (miraculously) expecting a baby in her old age, Mary hurried to go help her through her pregnancy.

As soon as Elizabeth saw Mary, the baby in her womb jumped for joy, and Elizabeth greeted Mary with these joyful words!

The Mother of Jesus truly is blessed – what an incredible gift, to carry the baby Jesus in her womb, growing, and developing, for nine months.

That baby in Elizabeth’s belly was John the Baptist – the last great prophet, and the herald of the Messiah. It was John who would pave the way, preparing the people of the time to receive and follow Christ.

What a powerful moment!

When we pray this part of the Hail Mary, we exclaim our joy in Mary’s great gift of motherhood of the Christ, as well as our joy in baby Jesus, “the fruit of [her] womb.”

Following this greeting from Elizabeth, Mary proceeds to glorify God and all the good he’s done in her life. She acknowledge that her title as “blessed” is not a thing of her own doing – but an incredible gift from God.

4. Which Ecumenical Council produced the Catechism which first introduced the entire final petition of the Hail Mary?

The Council of Trent produced the Catechism which first presented the entire final petition of the Hail Mary.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”


It’s important to have Mary’s intercession at the hour of our death – at the moment in which we will meet her son, Jesus, face to face.

Could Jesus say no to his own mother?

(Have doubts? See the Wedding at Cana)

We want Mary rooting for us when we enter our eternal destination!

5. Where does the prayer after the Glory Be come from?

Following each decade of the Rosary, after the Glory Be, many Catholics add this prayer:

“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”

– Fatima Prayer

This prayer is often called the “Fatima Prayer” and was revealed to the three Fatima children (Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia) by our lady in 1917.

6. What is the name of the Marian prayer said as the closing of the Rosary?

This prayer is called the Salve Regina (Or, Hail Holy Queen). It goes as follows:

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, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the most blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary;

Pray for us, most holy Mother of God, that we may be made worth of the promises of Christ.

Amen.

I found a little history about this prayer, attributing it to the German monk “Herman the Cripple” who died in 1054.

Herman was apparently a monk, historian, poet, and mathematician. Sounds like a pretty neat guy!

Learn more about the Salve Regina in this fantastic article.

7. What are the Mysteries of the Rosary?

(In our Catholic Trivia game, we asked for only a specific mystery. But for this post, I thought it would be helpful to include them all!)

The Joyful Mysteries

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity
  • The Presentation of Jesus
  • The Finding in the Temple

The Luminous Mysteries

  • The Baptism of Jesus
  • The Wedding at Cana
  • The Proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The Transfiguration
  • The Institution of the Eucharist

The Sorrowful Mysteries

  • The Agony in the Garden
  • The Scourging at the Pillar
  • The Crowning with Thorns
  • The Carrying of the Cross
  • The Crucifixion

The Glorious Mysteries

  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption
  • The Coronation of Mary

8. Who introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary?

For many years, the Rosary was comprised of the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries.

However, some people felt that there was a big gap between the Joyful and Sorrowful mysteries, and that there was something missing: namely, Jesus’ public ministry.

In 2002, Pope St. John Paul II proposed an additional set of mysteries: The Luminous Mysteries, or “Mysteries of Light.”

Some even claim that St. Louis de Montfort proposed the idea of additional Mysteries of the Rosary, though they were never actually added until proposed by JPII.

Some have felt uncomfortable with introducing this change, as they love the symbolism of the numbers and mysteries surrounding the original composition of the Rosary. It’s important to note that these mysteries (and the entire Rosary itself) are an optional devotion.

However the Luminous Mysteries have become widely accepted today.

Learn more about the Luminous Mysteries here.

9. The feast of the Holy Rosary was instituted on October 7th to commemorate what occasion?

Pope Pius V instituted the Feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7th. He did so to commemorate the Battle of Lepanto, as well as to “give thanks to the Lord for all of His benefits and remember the powerful intercession of our Blessed Mother” (EWTN).

10. Which Saint is traditionally credited with “starting” the Rosary?

This is more of a “did you know the popular story of” than a historical question.

Longstanding tradition says that St. Dominic introduced the Rosary.

It even claims that St. Dominic received a vision from Our Lady, directly giving him the prayer.

However, St. Dominic (and his order) never made that claim. In fact, a different blessed (Alan de la Roche) started this rumor based on a dream he had of St. Dominic receiving the Rosary in a vision from Mary.

You can read the story in this article by Our Sunday Visitor.

However the Rosary came to be, it is unarguably an important tradition for Catholics, and a devotion that many cling to in good times and bad.

If you haven’t tried praying the Rosary before, give it a go!

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