The Rosary: what is it and why do Catholics use it in prayer?

(Photo: Unsplash/James Coleman)

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For centuries, the Rosary has helped guide the prayer life of the Catholic faithful and assist them in feeling a deeper connection with God.

Visually, the Rosary beads are often a thing of beauty, with many made from pearls, glass, polished wood, stones or metal.

While the more luxurious - and expensive - Rosaries are made with precious stones and expensive metals, even the very affordable ones are charming to look at and made with much love and care.

Of course, their appearance is not the most important thing about them but rather the spiritual purpose behind them.

Most Catholic faithful will have their Rosary blessed and do their best to look after it because once the Rosary has been blessed, it is no longer a worldly object to be left carelessly lying around a messy desk or handbag, but a precious sacramental dedicated to the worship of God.

On a practical level, they aid prayer and are intended to help Catholics bring to mind important points in the Gospel - as covered by the 'Mysteries' that are meditated on during the Rosary.

There are four sets of Mysteries that are used on different days of the week - the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Glorious Mysteries and the Mysteries of Light.

The Rosary beads are used to help the believer keep track of where they are in the Rosary, which is not one prayer but actually a succession of prayers and Hail Marys.

Most Catholics will say the Rosary each day, so for them, their set of Rosary beads will become a very cherished personal item indeed.

The most important part of the Rosary is of course the crucifix, which bears the image of the crucified Christ. Holding the crucifix, the Catholic believer will make the sign of the cross and then pray the Apostles' Creed.

They will then use the small and large beads to help them keep count as they work through the Rosary, moving on from the crucifix and the Apostles' Creed to pray the 'Our Father', Hail Marys, the Mysteries, 'Glory Be' and 'Hail Holy Queen' before saying the 'Final Prayer' and finishing with another sign of the cross.

Still want to know more about the Rosary? Then check out this beautiful infographic from Rosary maker Savelli below for 10 interesting facts: