Skip to comments.History of the Scriptural Rosary - Meditating on The Word
Posted on 01/09/2009 1:39:15 AM PST by GonzoII
Historic Background of the Scriptural Rosary
The story of how the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary originated, and how it has developed and changed over the centuries, is one of the most interesting but little known chapters of the history of our Faith. A brief look at this curious story will show that the Scriptural Rosary presented here is actually very similar to the form of Rosary that was once in universal use during the late Middle Ages.
An Outgrowth of the 150 Psalms of David
Most historians trace the origin of the Rosary as we know it today back to the so-called Dark Ages of ninth century Ireland. In those days, as is still true today, the 150 Psalms of David were one of the most important forms of monastic prayer. Monks recited or chanted the Psalms day-after-day as a major source of inspiration.
The lay people who lived near the monasteries could see the beauty of this devotion, but because very few people outside the monasteries knew how to read in those days, and because the 150 psalms are too long to memorize, the lay people were unable to adapt this prayer from for their own use.
So one day in about the year 800 A.D., one of the Irish monks suggested to the neighboring lay people that they might like to pray a series of 150 Our Fathers in place of the 150 Psalms. Little did he know that his simple suggestion was the first step in the development of what would one day become the most popular non-liturgical prayer form of Christianity.
At first, in order to count their 150 Our Fathers, people carried around leather pouches which held 150 pebbles. Soon they advanced to ropes with 150 or 50 knots; and eventually they began to use strings with 50 pieces of wood.
Shortly afterwards the clergy and lay people in other parts of Europe began to recite, as a repetitive prayer, the Angelic Salutation, which makes up most of the first part of our Hail Mary. St. Peter Damian, who died in 1072, was the first to mention this prayer form. Soon many people were praying the fifty Angelic Salutations while others favored the fifty Our Fathers.
Origin of the Mysteries
Then during the thirteenth century another prayer form, which would soon give the Rosary its Mysteries, began to develop. Many medieval theologians had long considered the 150 Psalms to be veiled prophecies about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. By deep meditation and skillful interpretation of the Psalms certain of these men began to compose 'Psalters of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.' These were series of 150 praises in honor of Jesus, based upon interpretations of the 150 Psalms.
Soon 'psalters' devoted to 150 praises of Mary were also composed. When a Psalter of Marian praises numbered 50 instead of 150, it was commonly called a 'rosarium', or bouquet.
Thus, during the thirteenth century there were four distinct 'psalters' in use at the same time: the 150 Our Fathers, the 150 Angelic Salutations, the 150 praises of Jesus, and the 150 praises of Mary. In an age when unity was held in such high regard, perhaps it was inevitable that these four prayer forms should eventually be combined.
The Carthusians Combine Prayers and Mysteries
The first step toward the combination of these four kinds of psalters came in about 1365 A.D. when Henry of Kalkar, the Visitator of the Carthusian Order, grouped the 150 Angelic Salutations indo decades and put an Our Father before each decade. This combined the Our Father and the Hail Mary for the first time.
Next, in about 1409, another Carthusian, Dominic the Prussian, wrote a book which attached a Psalter of fifty thoughts about the lives of Jesus and Mary to a Rosary of 50 Hail Marys. This was the first time that a special thought was ever provided for each Hail Mary bead. Eventually the 50 Hail Mary thoughts of Dominic the Prussian were divided, as Henry of Kalkar had done, into groups of ten with an Our Father in between. Many variations of this form were composed between about 1425 and 1470, but the changes were gradual, not sudden.
The Dominicans Popularize the Special Hail Mary Thoughts
By 1470, when the Dominican Alan of Rupe founded the first Rosary Confraternity, and thereby launched the Dominican Order as the foremost missionaries of the Rosary, he could refer to the Rosary with a special thought for each Hail Mary bead (which was the form he favored) as the 'new' Rosary, while he referred to the form with the Hail Marys and no accompanying statements as the 'old' Rosary.
Through the efforts of Alan of Rupe and the early Dominicans this prayer form - 150 Hail Marys with a special thought for each bead - spread rapidly throughout Western Christendom.
It is important to note that this form of Rosary - the form which Alan of Rupe promoted so successfully as the Rosary of St. Dominic - is the model upon which the new Scriptural Rosary is based, that is, a Rosary with a special thought for each of the 150 Hail Mary beads. But the fifteenth century was a time of change and this successful medieval Rosary form was gradually abandoned as the Christian world moved out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.
Picture Rosaries Introduce the Short Rosary We Use Today
The abandonment of the medieval Rosary form, the form which provided a special thought for each Hail Mary bead, came about in this manner: In about 1500 it became possible to reproduce woodcut picture prints inexpensively for the first time. Since the vast majority of people still could not read, these picture Rosaries became immediately popular. But since it was difficult and expensive to draw and print 150 different pictures, one for each Hail Mary thought in the medieval Rosary, the new picture Rosaries usually showed only fifteen pictures - one for each Our Father bead. At first the ten Hail Mary thoughts were printed around each Our Father picture. Perhaps the most beautiful picture Rosary of this sort was the one first published in Venice by Alberto da Castello, O.P., in 1521. But during the 166h and 17th centuries the use of the special Hail Mary thoughts gradually died out, and there remained only the fifteen brief Our Father thoughts which have survived as the Fifteen Mysteries we know today. (As an interesting historical footnote, the only place in the world where the old medieval Rosary with 150 Hail Mary thoughts is known to survive today is in the isolated little mountain village of Schrocken, high in the Vorarlberg Alps of Austria. Here the villagers still come together as they have since the Middle Ages to pray the Rosary the way it was once prayed throughout the Christian world.)
As soon as the short Rosary of fifteen Mysteries and no Hail Mary thoughts had replaced the medieval form, people recognized the need to augment the fifteen brief Mystery statements. Supplementary prayers usually took the form of narratives or meditations to be read before praying each decade. One of the most popular of these sets of fifteen meditations was written by St. Louis de Montfort in about 1700. Most of the currently popular novena meditations follow this format, that is, an introductory paragraph of devotional thoughts to be read before praying each decade.
First Stirrings of a Return to the Medieval Rosary Form
Then beginning in the early 20th century, there appeared the first signs of a return to the medieval method. Provost Walter of Innichen published a series of thoughts for each Hail Mary in German. In 1920 Father Kilian Baumer composed another series of Hail Mary meditations which were published in Fribourg, Switzerland. The most recent printed work with special thoughts for each Hail Mary is that of Dr. Magnus Seng, a Canadian surgeon, published in 1946. Each of these recent writers composed pertinent statements, or thoughts, to be read before or after praying each Hail Mary of the Rosary.
The Scriptural Rosary presented here differs from these recent compositions, as it differs from the medieval version, in that it is composed almost entirely of direct quotations from the scriptures. These quotations are blended to tell the story of each Mystery in ten consecutive thoughts.
This brief review of the historical development of the Rosary should serve to show that the Scriptural Rosary is actually nothing more than an application of the scriptures to the way the Rosary was once prayed throughout Western Christendom in the late Middle Ages.
Scriptural Rosary Prayers
Please forgive me but this is an excellent article showing how corruption took place in the Church. Note that the monks started out by reciting from memory all 150 Psalms. This was indeed admirable and very scriptural! But people found this to be too difficult (unless you're a monk) so then they prayed about the 150 Psalms. As time marched on even this became too difficult (probably because they didn't know what the 150 Psalms stated) so then it ended up being 150 praises of Mary.
Now please tell me how does "meditating on the word" as this title suggest shows any relationship to "praises of Mary". It seems the Rosery is far removed from the original intent of our monks.
I'm still looking thru this piece to find something scriptural...Can't find it...Can't locate any mysteries either...What's up with that??? The link you provided for the scriptural prayers to Mary didn't work...
The Rosary and Sacred Scripture
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Luke 1:28 “And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”
The Greek kecharitomene means favored by grace, graced. Its tense suggests a permanent state of being “highly favored,” thus full of grace. Charity, the divine love within us, comes from the same root. God is infinite Goodness, infinite Love. Mary is perfect created goodness, filled to the limit of her finite being with grace or charity.
Blessed art thou among women
Luke 1:41-42a “When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women...”
Luke 1:48 “For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”
Among all women is a way to say the highest/greatest etc. of a group in Semitic languages (these words would likely have been spoken in Aramaic). Mary is being called the greatest of all women, greater than Ruth, greater than Sarah, greater than EVE! Since Eve was created immaculate (without original sin), Mary must have been conceived immaculate. And, although Eve fell into sin by her own free will, Mary must have corresponded to God's grace and remained sinless. She could not otherwise be greater than Eve. Thus, as the Fathers of the Church unanimously assert, Mary is the New Eve who restores womanhood to God's original intention and cooperates with the New Adam, her Son, for the Redemption of the world.
Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus
Luke 1:42b “and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Jesus is Mary's fruit. Good fruit does not come from anything but a good tree (Mt. 7:17-18)! The all-holy Son of God could not be the fruit of any other tree than the Immaculate Virgin.
Holy Mary, Mother of God
Luke 1:43 “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Kyrios is the Greek word used by the Jews in the Septuagint Bible (Greek translation) for Yhwh, the Divine Name of God. In her greeting of Mary, Elizabeth is saying: “How is it that the mother of my God should come to me.” Against the heresies of the 4th and 5th centuries which tried to split the Person of Jesus into two, divine and human, denying one or the other, the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD proclaimed Mary Theotokos (God-bearer, i.e. mother of God). Jesus is a single Person, a Divine Person, the 2nd Person of the Most Holy Trinity. To be mother of the Person Jesus is to be mother of a Person who is God. Mary's title protects this truth against errors which emphasize or deny, either the divinity or humanity of the Lord.
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Luke 2:35 “...and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
John 2:5 “His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Mary sees a need and appeals to Her Son to satisfy it. He does. We turn to Mary to ask her to intercede with her Son in our daily spiritual and material needs, but especially at the hour of our death. At that moment our salvation hangs in the balance as the devil makes his final foray to deter us from the path to God (Rev. 2:10). It is not surprising, therefore, that both the Hail Mary and the Our Father conclude with an appeal to be delivered from the evil one.
The Power of Intercessory Prayer:
Intercessory prayer proceeds from faith in God that holy men and women who have died are as alive today as they were on earth (Luke 20:38). If the prayer of the just man avails much, how much more the prayer of the one made perfect (Rev. 21:27) and living with God in heaven (the patriarchs, apostles and other holy men and women).
James 5:16b “the fervent prayer of a righteous man is very powerful.”
Rev. 5:8 “When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.
The angels, too, mediate our prayers. This is taught explicitly in the Jewish book of Tobit (Tob. 12:12), accepted by Christians as inspired until Luther on his own authority rejected it. It remains part of the Catholic Bible.
Tobit 12:12 I can now tell you that when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed, it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord; and I did the same thing when you used to bury the dead.
Rev. 8:3 “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.”
Is the rosary mindless babbling?
The purpose of the different beads on the rosary is to count the various prayers as they are said. Unlike the Moslem prayer beads and the mantras of Buddhism, the prayers of the rosary are meant to occupy our whole being, body and soul, while meditating on the truths of the Faith. Any prayer is vain, however, if said mechanically without devotion. Simply to repeat prayers is not the vain repetition condemned by Christ (Mt 6:7), since He Himself repeats His prayer in the Garden three times (Mt 26:39, 42, 44) and the Psalms (inspired by the Holy Spirit) are often very repetitive (Ps 119 has 176 verses and Ps. 136 repeats the same phrase 26 times).
Matthew 6:7 In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Praise the LORD, who is so good;
God's love endures forever;
Praise the God of gods;
God's love endures forever;
. . . Praise the God of heaven,
God's love endures forever.
Matthew 26:39 He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:42 Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”
Matthew 26:44 He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again.
The Church believes that it is necessary for a Christian to meditate (prayerfully think about) the will of God, the life and teachings of Jesus, the price He paid for our salvation, and so on. Unless we do this we will begin to take these great gifts for granted and ultimately fall away from the Lord. Every Christian must meditate in some way in order to preserve the gift of salvation (James 1:22-25). Many Catholic and non-Catholic Christians prayerfully read and apply Scripture to their lives, that is, meditate on them. With the rosary this can be done virtually anywhere and anytime.
There are protestants who pray The Rosary,Harley.
Perhaps you should too.
Well, if I meditate on the Word I can see that there is no problem with praising the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Lk 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Lk 1: 42-45: And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.Ver.
42. In the same words she is pronounced blessed by Elizabeth, and by the angel Gabriel, both inspired by the Holy Ghost, and this not only to the praise of Jesus, but for his sake, to the praise of Mary, calling her blessed, and her fruit blessed; and thus, as Ven. Bede asserts, holding her up to the veneration of both men and angels.
The piece has a bad link, If you follow the link on Post# 1 about the Scriptural Booklets you'll find the Scriptures, or see below I've linked the exact page:
Scroll down to: Printable pdf versions:
There are some things left out of this article in how we say the Rosary today. Prayers have been added as time has gone on and that was not mentioned. The 150 mysteries - well, is there a list? Most of us only know the 15 given to us so long ago and the five JPII added.
In the context of this article the 150 mysteries of which this article speaks are the meditations for each Hail Mary, which are now verses of Scripture. On post #1 I've left some links were one can find 150 Scriptural mysteries for each of the Hail Maries and other info for praying the Scriptural Rosary.
Unfortunately there is a bad link on the piece.
Thanks for the addition.
Martin Luther, who prayed the rosary daily until his death, disagrees with you. You and all of your comrades here should read the writings of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli to learn how far you protestants have strayed from Scripture and devotion to the Blessed Mother, amongst many other topics.
Please read the story of our dear monk friends who quoted the Psalms in comparison with what is being taught with the Rosary. There is no comparison of memorizing 150 Psalms versus chanting a small portion of scripture over and over.
Are you saying Luther was right?
Thank you. Our Adult Ed coordinator just had some little books for sale too. I’ll look and post the publisher later.
When we say the Rosary for funerals, we always say a Scriptural Rosary.
I have even written one.
The Joyful Mysteries
(Mondays and Saturdays)
1. The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) [Spiritual fruit - Humility]
2. The Visitation (Luke 1: 39-56) [Spiritual fruit - Love of Neighbor]
3. The Nativity (Luke 2:1-20) [Spiritual fruit - Poverty of Spirit]
4. The Presentation (Luke 2:21-38) [Spiritual fruit - Purity of mind & body]
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52) [Spiritual fruit - Obedience ]
The Luminous Mysteries or Mysteries of Light
(Thursdays) see Rosarium Virginis Mariae
1. Jesus' Baptism in the Jordan (II Corinthians 5:21, Matthew 3:17 and parallels) [Spiritual fruit - Gratitude for the gift of Faith]
2. Jesus' self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana (John 2:1- 12) [Spiritual fruit - Fidelity]
3. Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with His call to conversion (Mark 1:15, Mark 2:3-13; Luke 7:47- 48, John 20:22-23) [Spiritual fruit - Desire for Holiness]
4. Jesus' Transfiguration (Luke 9:35 and parallels) [Spiritual fruit - Spiritual Courage]
5. Jesus' institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery. (Luke 24:13-35 and parallels, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25) [Spiritual fruit - Love of our Eucharistic Lord]
The Sorrowful Mysteries
(Tuesdays and Fridays)
1. The Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46) [Spiritual fruit - God's will be done]
2. The Scourging at the Pillar (Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15, John 19:1) [Spiritual fruit - Mortification of the senses]
3. The Crowning with Thorns (Matthew 27:27-30, Mark 15:16-20, John 19:2) [Spiritual fruit - Reign of Christ in our heart]
4. The Carrying of the Cross (Matthew 27:31-32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26-32, John 19:17) [Spiritual fruit - Patient bearing of trials]
5. The Crucifixion (Matthew 27:33-56, Mark 15:22-39, Luke 23:33-49, John 19:17-37) [Spiritual fruit - Pardoning of Injuries]
The Glorious Mysteries
(Wednesdays and Sundays)
1.The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-29) [Spiritual fruit - Faith]
2. The Ascension (Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11) [Spiritual fruit - Christian Hope]
3. The Descent of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-13) [Spiritual fruit - Gifts of the Holy Spirit]
4. The Assumption [Spiritual fruit - To Jesus through Mary]
5. The Coronation [Spiritual fruit - Grace of Final Perseverance]
**In the context of this article the 150 mysteries of which this article speaks are the meditations for each Hail Ma**
So with the Luminous Mysteries, this number would be 200.
Well, how about posting it?
It is in the nature of heresy that the heretic is mostly right. Luther was right about a lot of things, his Marian devotion one of them. Were he wrong altogether, he would be an apostate. He is not.
Why don't you memorize 150 Psalms than- instead of complaining about something that is pleasing to God?
I wish you a Blessed day
All prayer is not necessarily good. Balaam’s prayer certainly wasn’t. I have heard some prayers that tend to be very self centered and selfish. And I must confess that I have been part of those types of prayers myself more often then I care to admit.
If I was a monk with nothing more in the evening to do then to recite the Psalms, I’d probably have them memorized. However, now we have the Internet to occupy our time. ;O)