Why the rosary?

Why do Catholics pray repetitive prayers using Prayer beads called the rosary?
Thanks for your responses!

The Rosary is a meditative device the evolved from the time when monks would pray the psalms.

Catholics are meditating while they are reciting the Rosary, they are not focusing on either the Hail Mary or the Our Father.

It a meditation on the life of Christ.
It’s calming, and easy for anyone to accomplish.

First, repetitive prayer is pleasing to God. Hence the angels in Revelation:

"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”

The admonition on “vain and repetitious prayer” is referring to 1 Kings 18:26-28:

“And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.”

The pagans would show how powerful they were by repeatedly calling the names of their gods hour after hour until one of the gods responded. That is what they mean by “vain, repetitious prayer.”

The Rosary came to us from St. Dominic, who received an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who told Dominic to pray this for the conversion of heretics.

Well, one of those repetitive prayers is the one Jesus Himself gave us and indeed taught and told us to pray --the Our Father.

The Hail Mary is very scriptural --the first part is directly from Luke : Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee (the angel’s salutation); "blessed are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb (Jesus) --the greeting of Mary by Elizabeth.

The second part “Holy Mary, Mother of God” is directed at Jesus (the Son of Mary and Son of the Father, therefore God). finally a plea to join with us in prayer for as St James tells us, the prayers of the righteous are powerful " Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death". Surely all of us on earth should be praying for our brothers and sisters.

Another prayer is the Glory be, and it is Trinitarian: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. . .as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. A prayer of praise and honor to the Trinity.

The ‘beginning’ of the rosary is the Apostles’ Creed. . .which Christians hold ‘in common’. The rosary then contains an our Father and three Hail Marys (traditionally said while meditating on the acts of respectively faith, hope, and charity), and a Glory Be.

Then five decades are said. Each starts with the Our Father, has 10 Hail Marys (all of which you note revolve around Jesus, ‘the fruit of thy womb’ and request prayers for sinners, and end with the Glory Be.

Each decade involves meditation on a mystery --the five Joyful (The annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the presentation of the infant Jesus, and the finding of the Child Jesus in the temple), the five Sorrowful (The agony in the garden, the Scourging at the pillar, the Crowning of thorns, the carrying of the Cross, and the Crufixion), the Five Glorious (The Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption (which prefigures the time when all of us will become, as promised by Christ, united in our souls and bodies in eternity), and the Coronation (which again is about Christ because if a woman is a Queen in Davidic teaching, it is only because her SON is the King, and therefore Mary’s crowning as Queen is solely because her son JESUS is our King); finally the five luminous mysteries given to us by Pope St John Paul II which are all specifically about the ministry of Our Lord on Earth --the Baptism in the Jordan, the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist’.

As you can see, these ‘repetitive’ prayers are all based in Scripture and Christian teaching, and involve us thinking about especially the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

Prayer beads of course have existed in many cultures. Some people use a bracelet of 10 ‘beads’ only , some even a ring (called a ‘thumb rosary’). People can count on fingers, but the beads make it easy not to ‘lose count’.

My family & I use it to meditate on the life of Christ.

I would also like to add that rosary beads are portable and convenient for communal prayer. My great grandparents (and grandparents) when they were young picked cotton. There were no clocks out in the fields to say let’s pray & think about Jesus for 20 minutes. If anyone had a rosary in their pocket they could use it to lead the group in a communal prayer time.

Edited to add: My grandfather only went to school up until 6th grade and could not read well as an adult. There is no way he could have read a Bible, he could barely read street signs but knew them by memory and experience. But he could always say his rosary as the prayers are simple once memorized. I think today we take our literacy for granted sometimes.

The use of prayer beads has been around for thousands of years, used by many faiths–Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Sikhism and the Bahá’í Faith–for use during prayers, chants, and devotions.
The earliest use of prayers beads seems to be in Hinduism, and then Buddhism, to aid in mantras.
I believe Catholics began using them in the 13th Century.

The act of holding and moving the beads, say psychologists, helps people focus on what they are chanting and praying about.


Exactly. The point, really, of reciting the rosary is to focus on Jesus’s life. It also helps us to focus on how we are to love each other and live our own lives. Each mystery is a stage in the life of Jesus, Mary, and the Church. We have four sets of five mysteries each. Each mystery has its own focus and its own virtue attached to it, as well.

Here are the four sets of mysteries:

Joyful Mysteries: Focus on the pregnancy of Mary (when she was carrying Jesus), and the infancy and childhood of Jesus. The Joyful Mysteries allow us to focus on the beginning of our own lives, as well, and teach us how to love our neighbor.

Luminous Mysteries: Focus on the active life of Jesus. The Luminous Mysteries allow us to focus on our own vocations in life, and teach us how to help build the Kingdom of God through our own work.

Sorrowful Mysteries: Focus on the Passion and death of Jesus. The Sorrowful Mysteries teach us how to stay true to God until our own end, and also allow us to see the destruction that comes through disordered love of self - that is, what happens when we put our own wills above God’s will (which is what sins are).

Glorious Mysteries: Focus on the Resurrection, the Church, and the afterlife. The Glorious Mysteries display to us the promises of God and what we have to look forward to in the life to come. The Glorious Mysteries focus us on the love we are to have for God.

It’s a meditative prayer. Great for some people who like to pray that way (contemplative). Great for some people who are too lazy to think but nevertheless want to pray. Great for some people who want the assurance that they are praying correctly, as Rosary prayers are biblical, but find difficulty to verbalize them. There are others (Catholics) who do not pray Rosary but that is alright too.

In addition to the other answers you have received:

It was revealed to St. Dominic in 1214, before the printing press was invented. Most could not read so a bible would be useless to them. They knew the Gospel stories from hearing the Word proclaimed at Mass.

The Rosary brought the Gospel alive to those praying it through deep contemplation of the Life, Death and Resurrection of our Lord. The Rosary is a Christ-centred prayer.

Now, even though we have our bibles and can read the Gospels ourselves, the deep contemplation of praying the Rosary brings spiritual benefits. Among others, it gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ. It makes it easy for us to practice virtue. It sets us on fire with love of Our Lord.

The Holy Rosary

It can seem a repetitive prayer but instead it is like two sweethearts who many times say to one another the words: “I love you”…
The Blessed Holy Father John Paul II on October 16th, 2002 with the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae on the Most Holy Rosary has added 5 new mysteries of the Rosary: The Mysteries of the Light.

The Psalms formed the prayer book and hymnal of the ancient Jewish people.
Psalm 136 has 26 lines each ending with the refrain "God’s love endures forever!’

In both Jewish and Catholic worship and prayer, repetition simply indicates the importance of a thought. Very often, as with the Jesus prayer, it leads to contemplation, the deepest form of prayer.
The rosary remains a meditative prayer in which the words form a backdrop in which we as Catholics meditate upon the important events revealed in the Gospel. The rosary beads help maintain the count of each of the prayers. The Our Father, of course, was taught by Our Lord Himself. The Hail Mary is the greeting that the Angel Gabriel used to announce the incarnation. The doxology returns us to giving glory to the Trinity at the end of each decade before moving to the next mystery.
The Jesus Prayer, which also uses beads, uses the cry of the blind man to lead us into a contemplative state, beyond words into the very presence of God.

As always, prayer is the lifting up of hearts and minds to God whether vocal or contemplative.

Why not the Rosary? I, like many Catholics, carry rosaries with me or have them near at all times. Often when I’m driving on the freeway or highway I can pray the rosary. I have a CD I can follow along, but have prayed it without the CD.

When I can’t find the words to tell God what is on my heart, I often start with the rosary. I’m spending time in prayer and God knows what is on my heart. If my mind is going 100 miles an hour and I need to slow down, I pray the rosary.

The rosary is a gift to us from our Blessed Mother, how could we not use it?

To draw near to our creator in thanksgiving and supplication.

I was up in line for confession today.

Like a lot of people, I try to make sure my legs don’t lock up.

After a little while, I remembered that today I had that rosary that I bought recently in order to try and get back into saying a rosary regularly.

Upon finishing the rosary, I was next in line for the box!

It was a great way to pass the confessional line time and prepare me for confession, rather than looking at all those heads in front of me and then back to the clock wondering if I should keep waiting or head back.

I think lighthouse media has a few ‘why rosary’ recordings.

Take care,


The rosary began as a way to join in praying the Divine Office by lay people who didn’t know Latin (the language religious orders used to pray the DO) or how to read or write their own languages. The Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours consists of praying 150 Psalms throughout the day at specific times, with antiphons, prayers and responses. By praying the Hail Mary lay people could join in by praying 150 Hail Marys. Later the Hail Marys were divided into decades with an Our Father added at the beginning of each decade and a Glory be at the end of each decade. Meditating on events from the Gospel came after that. So, the Hail Marys were not prayed as “vain repitiions,” but as a means to join in communal prayer with the Church.

It calms my nerves, reduces stress, and bring me spiritual peace. That is why.

By a convert named Scott Hahn:


A friend of mine who had heard I was thinking about the Catholic Church called up one day and said: “Do you worship Mary like those Catholics do?” I said, “They don’t worship Mary; they honor Mary.” “Well, what’s the difference?” I said, “Let me explain. When Christ accepted the call from His Father to become a man, He accepted the responsibility to obey the law, the moral law which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. There’s a commandment which reads, ‘Honor your father and mother.’” I said, “Chris, in the original Hebrew, that word “honor,” kaboda, that Hebrew word means to glorify, to bestow whatever glory and honor you have upon your father and mother. Christ fulfilled that law more perfectly than any human by bestowing His glory upon His heavenly Father and by taking His own divine glory and honoring His Mother with it. All we do in the rosary, Chris, is to imitate Christ who honors His Mother with His own glory. We honor her with Christ’s glory.”

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