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THE ORIGIN OF THE ROSARY
AOH ^ | Mike McCormack

Posted on 01/31/2005 5:19:04 PM PST by Catholic54321

As a youngster, I learned that St. Dominic was given the Rosary by the Blessed Virgin, and accepted that story of invention by divine intervention. Many years later, I learned that anecdote was only an austere version of the true story, simplified for young minds. The true origin of the Rosary is quite different, more interesting, and predates St. Dominic! Theologians have traced the origin of the Rosary back to the Ninth century, and a form of prayer that evolved in the monasteries of the early Irish church. Prayer and labor filled the days of the Irish monks, and one of the most important forms of monastic prayer was the daily chanting of the 150 psalms of David. Lay people around the monastery would hear the psalms every day as they were sung or recited, and the beauty of this form of prayer intrigued them. They yearned to join in, but the psalms were too long to memorize, copies could not be found since printing was rare, and few knew how to read Latin anyway. The lay people were however, determined to adapt this prayer form for their own use.

Sometime around 800 AD, the people's desire to participate led to their reciting The Lord's Prayer in response to every psalm recited by the monks. As this form of devotion became popular, people began to carry leather pouches of 150 pebbles, in order that they might keep count of their daily prayers when they were not in hearing distance of the monastery. A thin rope with 150 knots became less of a burden and soon replaced the bag of stones. The Celtic infatuation with the number three, soon saw the prayer rope evolve into a rope of 50 knots to be said three times, and this became an accepted standard.

When the Irish missionary monks began to travel and evangelize Europe, this form of devotion was brought with them. In some areas, clergy and lay people began to recite the Angelic Salutation which makes up the first part of the Hail Mary in response to the psalms. St. Peter Damien, who died in 1072, was the first to mention this form of prayer, the popularity of which led to the daily recitation of 50 Angelic Salutations on a knotted or beaded prayer string.

During the 13th century, the recitation evolved into yet another form. Medieval theologians began to interpret the 150 psalms as veiled prophesies about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and they composed a series of psalters, or praises, based on each interpretation. Soon 150 psalters in honor of Mary were also composed. In order to fit the existing prayer string, the psalters were divided into three "rosariums" or bouquets of 50 each. This was the form that St. Dominic knew, and promoted.

With the Church's emphasis on unity, it was inevitable that a planned combination of all the prayer forms was prescribed as a standard. The first step toward that standard took place about 1365 when Henry of Kalkar, Visitator of the Carthusian Order, divided the 150 salutations into decades of 10, with an Our Father preceding each. Around 1409, another Carthusian named Dominic the Prussian, wrote a book which attached a psalter of 50 thoughts, about the lives of Jesus and Mary, to a Rosarium of 50 Hail Marys. The division of the 50 Hail Marys into five groups of ten, or decades, with an Our Father before each, gave the modern Rosary its form, yet the evolution was not over.

In 1470, the Dominican, Alan of Rupe, founded the first Rosary Confraternity, thereby establishing the Dominican Order as the foremost missionaries of the Rosary. Then, during the Renaissance, the medieval form of a thought for each bead was abandoned in favor of a shorter version with a thought for each of the fifteen decades. These thoughts took the form of narratives, one of the most popular sets of which was written by St, Louis de Montfort around 1700. The fifteen narratives were divided into five Joyful, five Sorrowful, and five Glorious mysteries in the lives of Jesus and Mary, and the Rosary itself became a string of 50 beads to be prayed three times, with each time representing one of the three sets of mysteries.

In spite of centuries of evolution and change, the Rosary's Irish origins are still evident. The number of Hail Marys in the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries still total 150 - the exact number of psalms chanted by the early Irish monks in their monasteries, and answered by the faithful Irish outside in a responsorial pattern that became today's most popular form of devotion. It is significant that when Mary visited Knock in 1879, she was holding a Rosary.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 01/31/2005 5:19:04 PM PST by Catholic54321
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To: Catholic54321

I thought the Church resently added a fourth Mystery for the Rosary.


2 posted on 01/31/2005 5:34:14 PM PST by Military family member (Go Colts!)
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To: Catholic54321

Great post! The original rosary is 15 decades, the way Mary wanted it.


3 posted on 01/31/2005 6:09:35 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: Military family member

In October 2002, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, recommended adding 5 more Mysteries to the Rosary to be prayed on Thursdays -- the "Luminous Mysteries" which focus on Jesus' public life. These Mysteries are:

The Baptism in the Jordan
The Marriage Feast at Cana
The Proclamation of the Kingdom
The Transfiguration
The Institution of the Eucharist

This novelty does not change the true Rosary and is merely presented as an option for Christians. This option, however, is one that totally disrupts the relationship between the Rosary and the Breviary's Psalms.


5 posted on 01/31/2005 6:23:36 PM PST by Catholic54321
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To: Catholic54321

Hi Catholic54321. Thanks for all the posts you've been putting up lately.

Might I suggest that when you quote from another website, you put quote marks around it and give a link? That's from http://www.kensmen.com/catholic/lists.html , I believe.


6 posted on 01/31/2005 6:26:09 PM PST by gbcdoj ("The Pope orders, the cardinals do not obey, and the people do as they please" - Benedict XIV)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Catholic54321

Great article!
Me too, learn something new every day.

Now, because the word Rosary is in the title, the Anti-Catholic-trolls will be here any second.

Cover me, I have to put my girls to bed and say my prayers for my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary on Wednesday. I can't come back so hold down the fort ;-)!


8 posted on 01/31/2005 6:30:16 PM PST by netmilsmom (I once put instant coffee in a microwave and went back in time.)
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To: sandyeggo; Catholic54321

I meant his post #6: "This novelty does not change the true Rosary and is merely presented as an option for Christians. This option, however, is one that totally disrupts the relationship between the Rosary and the Breviary's Psalms."

That's not a very nice thing to say about the Luminous Mysteries :) He was quoting that from another site along with the list of them.


9 posted on 01/31/2005 6:32:52 PM PST by gbcdoj ("The Pope orders, the cardinals do not obey, and the people do as they please" - Benedict XIV)
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To: CouncilofTrent

This one has Rosary in the title. They'll be here too!

I'm out of the hunt tonight. Godspeed my FRiend!


10 posted on 01/31/2005 6:34:34 PM PST by netmilsmom (I once put instant coffee in a microwave and went back in time.)
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: gbcdoj

exactly, I left it off as I was posting to your other comment.


12 posted on 01/31/2005 6:40:52 PM PST by Catholic54321
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To: Catholic54321

Here's a link to a discussion of the Orthodox use of repetitive prayer: http://www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/articles/alex_roman/prayerrope.htm


13 posted on 01/31/2005 6:52:25 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Nuke the Cube!)
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To: gbcdoj

"That's not a very nice thing to say about the Luminous Mysteries"

How judgmental of you!

Then again, is there anything "nice" to say about tampering with the Rosary? Annibale Bugnini tried to change the Rosary but Pope Paul IV stopped him, and sent him packing...


14 posted on 01/31/2005 6:55:27 PM PST by donbosco74
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To: sandyeggo

"I'd never heard of the Ancient Order of Hibernians before reading your article."

Really?!

When I was a kid, I had an uncle who flew the flag of the order over his cottage everyday in the summertime!


15 posted on 01/31/2005 6:56:10 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Nuke the Cube!)
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To: donbosco74
Then again, is there anything "nice" to say about tampering with the Rosary?

I like the "O my Jesus" prayer from Fatima. That's "tampering", I suppose, although it's heavenly tampering ;)

As for the Luminous Mysteries, the jury's still out, I guess... The normal mysteries were fine, if you ask me. But I don't run the Church.

16 posted on 01/31/2005 7:01:30 PM PST by gbcdoj ("The Pope orders, the cardinals do not obey, and the people do as they please" - Benedict XIV)
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo

Well, its a very exclusive organization. You're out on two counts!


19 posted on 02/01/2005 3:47:20 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Nuke the Cube!)
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To: netmilsmom

Add this end of a prayer,called "Petition" to our Lady of Pompeii;Queen of the Holy Rosary!
O blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which connects us with the angels, tower of saftey against the assults of hell,sure harbor in the universal shipwreck,never more shall we part from thee;thou shalt be out comfort in the hour of agony;to thee the last kiss of our life.The last word of our dying lips shall be thy sweet name,O Queen of the Rosary of Valle di Pompeii,Mother dear, only refudge of sinners, supreme comforter of the afflicted, blessed be thy name now and ever on earth and in heaven AMEN


20 posted on 02/01/2005 7:54:40 AM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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To: gbcdoj

I can appreciate your position on this. I don't run the Church, either. But then again, anyone who does so, while ignoring history and tradition has to be suspect, according to history and tradition. Just as the Mass was developed organically over the centuries, so too the Rosary was. Comparing the adding of these new mysteries to the abrupt and violent changes to the Mass in 1969 reveals conspicuous similarities. Or, take the wholesale remodeling of churches and the calendar: the principal aim seems to be a desire to introduce confusion, distraction and discord. Now, what do we have? When a group gathers to pray the Rosary, if some of them want to add the Luminous Mysteries --

The Baptism in the Jordan
The Marriage Feast at Cana
The Proclamation of the Kingdom
The Transfiguration
The Institution of the Eucharist

-- often times others do not, resulting in disagreement and confusion. There has been talk of Rosary groups being broken up over this question. The greatest saints have said that the original 15 mysteries present such a wealth of meditation that nobody has time in their life to exhaust the depth thereof; therefore, adding these 5 more would at least sometimes distract from the contemplation of the original 15. Some may disagree. But it certainly introduces a separation from the practice of a very well established tradition.

Many such attacks have come to the Rosary over the centuries, but this is the first time such a change was introduced from the chair of Peter. All his predecessors ever did was to confirm the popular practice with indulgences and praise, or to ask for a few additional prayers for the Pope. The Rosary with 15 decades carries numerous indulgences in various forms. How many indulgences are given for the 20-mystery version?


21 posted on 02/05/2005 11:46:08 AM PST by donbosco74
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To: gbcdoj

Clarification: what I mean is, I am not able to find anything specifically giving the new Luminous Mysteries any indulgence. While the apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, mentions the word "indulgence" one time, it does not mention any specific indulgence tied to the Rosary including the new mysteries. So, like with so many novelties recently introduced, confusion sets in. For example, if one prays the new version, with 20 mysteries, do the same indulgences apply as if only the traditional 15 were prayed? Where is that question answered? Or, do some (or all?) indulgences now apply only if one has no reservation against the new 5? A priest might claim to have the answer, but I am asking for a Papal pronouncement to which I can refer, because I can't find one.

Some indulgences were for praying any set of 5 ("one third, continuously") of the first 15 decades: do these now apply to the new 5? (The old form would therefore need to be remodeled to say "one fourth, continuously" but it has not been.) Nobody has said so, as far as I can tell. The point is, indulgences have very specific rules which have been followed for good reasons, not the least of which is to avoid confusion of the faithful. Is that a note of this latest move, or not?


22 posted on 02/05/2005 3:50:22 PM PST by donbosco74 ("Men and devils make war on me in this great city." (Paris) --St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort)
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To: Catholic54321
 
Pray the Rosary. 
Pray without ceasing.

23 posted on 10/07/2007 1:35:42 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Catholic54321

Actually the rosary traces its history to several earlier religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam.. to name a few. As early as 5500–2600 BCE (BC) prayer beads were used to help keep track of prayers or mantras. European christian crusaders brought the tradition back to their own countries, which spread from there to the modern rosary.


24 posted on 04/15/2010 2:25:07 PM PDT by soupseeds
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