How to Pray the Rosary

Begin with the Sign of the Cross:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

and cross yourself as you do, touching your forehead, heart, left and then right breast.

Then, holding the crucifix, pray the Apostles’ Creed.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen. 

On the first big bead above the crucifix (sometimes these beads are the same size as the others, distinguished only by an extra space between them) pray an Our Father.

Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.

On the three little beads pray one Hail Mary each.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Some people like to use these opening prayers to ask God to grant the pope’s prayers, and for their own personal need for greater faith, hope, and love. Others pray for whatever needs they have at that moment. It’s your call. The Rosary is—according to the older Catholic books—supererogatory, or “above what is required.” You can feel free, within the limits of Catholic faith and morals, to make the Rosary your own.

Next pray the Glory Be:

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. Amen.

Many people also like to add the Fatima Prayer after the Glory Be, and after each of the decades:

O 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.

Once these opening prayers are finished, begin the first decade by announcing the First Mystery, praying the Our Father on the big bead, then ten Hail Marys on the small beads. When you get to end of a decade, say the Glory Be (and the Fatima prayer if you are so inclined) and announce the next Mystery. When you are done with five decades, close with the following prayers:

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 toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.


O God, whose only-begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Finally, make the Sign of the Cross again and you are finished.

Pretty simple. But of course, that only covers what you are doing with your hands and your mouth. The thing to remember is that the Rosary is typically about meditating on the Mysteries, not on the repetitive prayers. (Some people prefer to make the Mysteries the “setting” of their prayers then concentrate on conforming their hearts to the repeated prayers as closely as they can. There is no “right way” to say the Rosary.)

The idea behind repetitive prayers is to keep your mouth and hands filled with the things of the Lord while you are focusing your heart on him. You’re not earning brownie points by fulfilling a daily quota of Our Fathers and Hail Marys. The real action is taking place in your mind and heart, where you are meditating on the mysteries or the prayers, not on the number of beads you’ve counted off.

On Monday, we will start looking at the Mysteries we meditate upon as we pray.


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