How To Pray The Rosary

Introduction | Rosary Novenas | The Family Rosary | The First Five Saturdays  

Joyful Mysteries | The Luminous Mysteries | Sorrowful Mysteries | Glorious Mysteries

Prayers of the Rosary

Download a Word Document version of How to Pray the Rosary, with Rosary prayers.

Download a Word doc with each set of Mysteries of the Rosary ready to print out.

Feel free to print out these instructions and prayers for your own use, or to share with family and friends.


Praying the Rosary brings with it many benefits. It destroys vice and greatly strengthens a person's faith. The Rosary is a wonderful devotion, combining spoken prayers with meditation of the lives of Jesus and Mary. It is meant to be said every day and, through regular use, bring the believer to a state where he or she is ever mindful of prayer or, as some like to put it, constantly in a state of prayer.

Your Rosary has several parts to it, if you look at it.  At the bottom, there is a crucifix, then a short string of beads and then a large circle of beads.  Prayers are said for the crucifix and on each bead.

It is good to offer up your Rosary for some intention. Our Lady of Fatima asked us to say a daily Rosary for world peace and the conversion of sinners. Before you begin praying your Rosary, say this prayer, and offer up your Rosary for any intention that touches your heart.

Pick a quiet place to pray. Try to minimize the distractions - take the phone off the hook, etc. If you want, light a candle. Make yourself comfortable. Sit or kneel quietly, and clear your mind. Think of your intention, what are you offering this time of prayer for? Holding the Rosary, with the crucifix in your hand, begin to pray: 

Make the sign of the cross, praying, "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen."

Then, still holding the cross, pray the Apostles Creed while meditating on the meaning of this creed.

Then, continue holding the cross with one hand and move up to the first large bead and recite the Our Father, also known as The Lord's Prayer.

On the three next beads, recite a Hail Mary on each bead.  After the last of the three smaller beads, say a Glory Be.   Then you are ready to start meditating on the mysteries.

As you start on the first decade, the first of the 10 beads after the center-piece on your Rosary, announce the Sacred Mystery to be meditated on, and recall the events in Mary’s life, or Jesus' life and the meaning of that event. Say the Mystery out loud. Then, think of this event in Christ's life, or Mary's life, holding the image in  your mind, while reciting ten Hail Mary's, one for each of the next ten beads. There will be a space, and then a single bead. Pray one Our Father, one Glory Be, and the Fatima Prayer on the next single bead .  

The process is repeated with a different mystery for each of the following groupings of one bead and ten beads. After the  five decades (groups of ten Hail Mary's), pray the Hail Holy Queen and the Prayer After the Rosary.


Rosary Novenas

Religious devotion, public or private, for the duration of nine days to gain special graces, is called a Novena. Those who perform it with a lively hope of having their request granted, and with perfect faith and resignation if it be refused, may be assured that Christ will grant some grace or blessing. This requires an understanding that in His infinite wisdom and mercy, He may refuse the particular favor which is requested.

Novenas originated in imitation of the Apostles who were gathered together in prayer for nine days from the time of Our Lord's Ascension (to Heaven) until Pentecost Sunday (the descent of the Holy Spirit).

This practice of saying the Rosary nine times in the form of the Rosary Novena in petition or thanksgiving, is another way of heeding Our Lady's request to Pray the Rosary.

The 54 Day Novena Devotion which originated in 1884 at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, consists of the daily recitation of five decades of the Rosary (I have added the new Luminous Mysteries) You pray through the complete cycle (one complete Mystery: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, or Glorious) for twenty-seven days in petition and five decades for twenty-seven additional days in thanksgiving. You will actually be making three Novenas in petition for a particular favor and three Novenas in thanksgiving for a particular favor.

1st day say the 5 Joyful Mysteries
2nd day say the 5 Luminous Mysteries
3rd day say the 5 Sorrowful Mysteries
4th day say the 5 Glorious Mysteries
5th day say the 5 Joyful Mysteries, beginning the cycle again


The Family Rosary

The family Rosary is the Rosary recited aloud together, by as many of the family and their friends as can be present. Any family (two or more people) may say the Family Rosary in any suitable place and at any time.

A leader says aloud the first part of each prayer; a second person or group of persons answers aloud the second part of the prayer.

To begin the Family Rosary, all hold the Crucifix of their Rosary in the right hand and make the Sign of the Cross. The leader begins the Apostles' Creed and proceeds through the rest of the Rosary. The leader announces the Mystery before each decade. Five decades (one complete Mystery: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, or Glorious) should be recited each day.


The Five First Saturdays

Mary's Great Promise at Fatima 

The Five First Saturdays are intended to honor and to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for all the blasphemes and ingratitude of men.

This devotion and the wonderful promises connected with it were revealed by the Blessed Virgin at Fatima, a small village in Portugal. Our lady appeared to three children there in 1917, and one of the little girls, Lucy, tells us that Our Lady said:

I promise to help at the hour of death, with the graces needed for salvation, whoever on the First Saturday of five consecutive months shall:

1. Confess and Receive Communion.

2. Recite five decades of the Rosary (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, or Glorious Mysteries)

3. Keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.


The Joyful Mysteries

(Usually said on Mondays & Saturdays, the Sundays of Advent, and Sundays from Epiphany until Lent)

The Annunciation - First Joyful Mystery
Luke 1:26-28

I Desire the Love Of Humility
Remember the humbleness of the Blessed Virgin Mary when the Angel Gabriel greeted her with these words: "Hail, Full of Grace". The angels recognize her holiness! Remember her immediate acceptance of God's will for her life, even though she didn't understand how it could possibly happen. It makes perfect sense that she, a consecrated virgin, would ask how she could have a child! And she knew that she would be suspected of adultery, and possibly killed! Yet, she trusts God completely. Let Mary's words "let it be done to me according to your Word" become your own prayer, always.

The Visitation - Second Joyful Mystery
Luke 1:39-45

I Desire Charity Toward My Neighbor
Remember that Our Lord was fully present in Mary's womb from the moment the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. When Mary showed her love and charity by visiting her cousin Elizabeth and remaining with her for three months before the birth of John the Baptist, it was an opportunity for grace, for Elizabeth, as well. Remember how Elizabeth responded to grace, and showed her faith, and recall the joy of the child John, who leaped in her womb, in the presence of Our Lord. When we show love and kindness to others, we not only receive grace, we can help others respond to grace as well. Through Immaculate Mary, you can become an instrument for God's grace in the world.

The Nativity - Third Joyful Mystery
Luke 2:1-20

I Desire the Love of God
Remember the poverty, so lovingly accepted by Mary when she placed the Infant Jesus, our God and Redeemer, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, in a stone manger in a tiny stable in Bethlehem. The angels appeared first not to kings or the Wise Men, but to shepherds guarding their flocks in a cold dark field. "Glord to God in the Highest", indeed! God did not come to us as "royalty", but as one of us. He is hidden, he hides himself in the lowly; those individuals whom most people despise. Think of it. Jesus said: "I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me to drink, I was lonely and you never came to visit me, etc." When others asked him when all this occurred, he said: "As long as you neglected the least of my brothers, you neglected me."

The Presentation - Fourth Joyful Mystery
Luke 2:22-40

I Desire a Spirit of Joy, the joy to be found in Trusting God, and in Obedience to His Will
Mary's obedience to the law of God in presenting the Child Jesus in the Temple. She was obedient in all things. Think also of the prophets Simeon and Anna, who were obedient to God's promise to them, and went to the Temple every day, for many years, waiting to see the Messiah. Many people would have given up, waiting so very long. But Simeon and Anna, these holy prophets of God, were steadfast in their trust. Finally, each of them saw the child at the Temple, and proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, and rejoiced! Their faithfulness and trust in God were rewarded!

Finding the Boy Jesus in the Temple - Fifth Joyful Mystery
Luke 2:41-52

I desire Trust in the sure knowledge that we are safe within the Will of God

"How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" This is the answer that Jesus gave to His Mother when, after three days' of what must have been frantic searching, she and Joseph had the joy of finding their Child in the Temple. In these words Jesus sums up His whole person, His whole life, His whole mission. They reveal His Divine Sonship; they testify to His supernatural mission. Christ's whole life will only be a clarifying and magnificent exposition of the meaning of these words. St. Luke goes on to tell us that Mary "did not understand the word that He spoke." But even if Mary did not grasp the full significance of these words, she did not doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. This is why she submitted in silence to that Divine Will which had demanded such a sacrifice of her love. "Mary kept these words of Jesus carefully in her heart." She kept them in her heart, for there was the tabernacle in which she adored the mystery concealed in the words of he Son, waiting until the full light of understanding would be granted her.


The Luminous Mysteries
(The Mysteries of Light)
(Said on Thursdays Throughout the Year)

The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River - The First Luminous Mystery
Mt 3:13-17
I desire always to be an Obedient child of God
Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became "sin" for our sake (2Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son, while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out.


The Wedding in Cana - The Second Luminous Mystery
Jn 2:1- 11
I desire to always obey the words of Mary at Cana - "Do whatever He tells you".
The first of the signs, given at Cana, when Christ changes water into wine, and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers. Let us remember the things we are shown here: the power of Mary's intercession; her absolute trust in the Lord, that He will do whatever needs doing; Jesus uses the water meant for the ritual of ceremonial washing, and transforms it into the wine which symbolizes the Blood of Christ, and finally, we see the significance and honor Jesus shows toward  the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom of God, Calls us to Conversion, and Forgives the Sinner - The Third Luminous Mystery
Mk 1:14-15; Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:36-50; Jn 20:19-23
Jesus, I trust in You!
Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, (Mk 1:15) calls to conversion and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation ( Jn 20:22-23).

The Transfiguration - The Fourth Luminous Mystery
Lk 9:28-35
Jesus, I desire only to listen to You, always!
The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished Apostles to "listen to him" and to prepare to experience with him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit.

The Last Supper -The Eucharist - The Fifth Luminous Mystery
Jn 13:1-38
Lord, draw me as often as You will to Holy Communion. Through this Sacrament, through Your presence within me, I can reach holiness.
The institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies "to the end" Jesus' love for humanity. The Holy Eucharist is a great means through which we may to aspire to perfect holiness. But we must receive it with the desire and intent of removing from our hearts all that is displeasing to Him. Kneel and render the tribute of your presence and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Confide all your needs to Him. Speak to Him with abandonment, pour out your heart to Him, and give him complete freedom to work in you as He feels is best.


The Sorrowful Mysteries

(Said on Tuesdays, Fridays throughout the year, and daily from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday)

Agony in the Garden - First Sorrowful Mystery
Matthew 26:36-44
I Desire True Repentance for My Sins
Remember how Our Precious Lord Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray. Remember how He wept, seeing our sins, with a sweat of blood breaking out on His gentle brow. How awful, such a bitter agony for our sins! Think of Him, alone in the dark, facing His death, a sacrifice he makes willingly for us, yet in agony already. He weeps not for the pain to come, but because of the pain of our sins, which he will bear, lovingly, to the Cross. Jesus said to St. Faustina: "I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls." Let us blend our own tears with those of Our Savior, for the sins of the world. Let us repent of our own sins, and pray for the conversion of the whole world.

Scourging at the Pillar - Second Sorrowful Mystery
Matthew 27:24-26
I Desire a Spirit of Mortification
Remember the cruel scourging at the pillar that our Lord suffered. The whips the Romans used were tipped with sharp metal, which tore at the flesh, often right down to the bone. They beat Our Beloved Lord, He who was wholly innocent of any sin, tearing open His flesh, wracking Him with pain. Silently He suffered without a word, for us. Let us reflect on the pain that our impurity causes Our Dear Lord. Lord, let us feel our hearts being filled with Your love and let the rays of Your mercy and love pierce our souls. Help us to take refuge from sin behind the shield of Your mercy.

Crowning of Thorns - Third Sorrowful Mystery
Matthew 27:27-31
I Desire Moral Courage
The crown of sharp thorns that was forced upon our Lord's Head. The Roman soldiers mocked him, spit on him, tried to humiliate him, and Jesus bore all of this, without a word. He who could have commanded legions of angels to come to his rescue, submitted to humiliation, for our sake.

Carrying of the Cross - Fourth Sorrowful Mystery
Matthew 27:32-33

I Desire the Virtue of Patience
The heavy Cross, so willingly carried by our Lord. He was physically weakened by his ordeal, but kept trying, over and over, to carry the instrument of his own death. Can we do any less? Ask Him to help you to carry your crosses without complaint.

The Crucifixion - Fifth Sorrowful Mystery
Matthew 27:33-54

I Desire the Grace of Final Perseverance
The love which filled Christ's Sacred Heart during His agony on the Cross. Join any suffering that you have, with His, and ask Him to be with you at the hour of death.


The Glorious Mysteries

(Said on Wednesdays, Sundays throughout the year)

The Resurrection - First Glorious Mystery
Mark 16:1-20

I Desire a Strong Faith
Christ's glorious triumph when, on the third day after His death, He arose from the tomb and appeared to Mary Magdalene. She ran to tell the others - but they did not believe her. Let the grace of Our Lord fill your heart and strengthen your faith. Be like Mary Magdalene. Think of her joy, when she ran to tell Peter and the others, and let that joy fill your heart. He is risen! Alleluia! 

The Ascension - Second Glorious Mystery
Luke 24:36-53

I Desire the Virtue of Hope
The Ascension of Jesus Christ, forty days after His glorious Resurrection, in the presence of Mary and His disciples, and remember His message to us - "And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."(Matthew 28:20)

The Descent of the Holy Spirit - Third Glorious Mystery
Acts 2:1-41

I Desire Zeal for the Glory of God
The descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives in fulfillment of Christ's promise to us, that we will have a Companion, to guide us always. Give thanks for the Holy Spirit in your life! Let the Spirit lead you, so that you may fulfill your mission as a Disciple of Christ!

The Assumption - Fourth Glorious Mystery
I Desire the Grace of a Holy Death
The angel Gabriel addressed Mary as "full of grace", and Mary herself said, "all ages will call me blessed" (Luke 1:46-49). Because she was preserved from Original Sin, she was preserved from its consequences, namely death. Mary, the first of the disciples, is the first of those risen in Christ. Our Lord, honoring His blessed mother always, lifted her, body and soul, into His Kingdom. From Heaven where Our Lord has taken her, Our Mother, Immaculate Mary, ceaselessly directs our gaze to the glory of the Risen Christ, in whom the victory of God and of his loving plan over evil and death is revealed.  

The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Fifth Glorious Mystery
The Apocalypse of St. John (Revelation) 12:1-18

I Desire a Greater Love for the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Apocalypse of Saint John the Apostle describes a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Mary is that crowned Queen. We see her depicted exactly this way on the miraculous image on the tilma of St. Juan Diago, as Our Lady of Guadaloupe. She is the Queen of Heaven, and the Queen of the Universe. In the 3rd Book of Kings, (3 Kings 2:19), we read that King Solomon would not refuse his mother anything; and when she entered into his presence, the king "stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right". Now Jesus is the true son of David, the fulfillment of God's promise to David. And Jesus too must have his Queen Mother, and he gives her honor, and enthrones her at his right. And like the king, Jesus will never refuse his mother's request, so call on Mary and have confidence in her intercession. Entrust yourself to her prayers! Mary will lead you to the Immaculate Heart of her Son!


Prayers of the Rosary

Prayer Before Praying the Rosary

Queen of the Holy Rosary, you have designed to come to Fatima to reveal to the three shepherd children the treasures of grace hidden in the Rosary. Inspire my heart with a sincere love of this devotion, in order that by meditating on the Mysteries of our Redemption which are recalled in it, I may obtain peace for the world, the conversion of sinners, and the favor which I ask of you in this Rosary (Mention your request). I ask it for the greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of souls, especially for my own. Amen.


The 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.


The Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace! the Lord is with thee; blessed are 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.


Glory be to the Father:

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.


The "Fatima Prayer" to Jesus, as requested By Our Lady

O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, take all souls to Heaven, and help especially those most in need of Your mercy.


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; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall 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.


Hail Holy Queen:

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, O most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement! O loving! O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Prayer After The Rosary

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, 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.


Devotional Meditations on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary
Click here for more in-depth devotional essays on the Mysteries of the Rosary



Updated: October 30, 2002