A wooden rosary against a flowery and pink backdrop, almost Indian looking

Hello my dear Rosary lovers! I hope you are all doing great 🙂 The question of this post is: How many beads are on a Rosary? Let’s see what the answer is.

Drum roll …

The standard Rosary contains 59 beads.

Here is a picture of a Rosary:

A wooden rosary with black beads and a simple wooden cross at the end

As you can see, there are 5 beads after the cross.

Now can you see that there are clumps of 10 beads? All in all, there are 5 clumps of 10 beads. These make up 50 beads, and these are the beads used to pray the Hail Mary prayer.

Have a look and see if you can spot those Hail Mary beads in clumps of 10.

Then there are 4 Our Father beads in the main part of the Rosary.

Can you see them?

You can notice these because they are isolated, with two bits of white string either side of them.

So: =====> That’s:

5 beads + 50 beads + 4 beads = 59 beads!

That’s how many beads are on a standard Rosary.

Read on to find out why!

Why are there 59 beads?

There is no significance to the number 59, surprisingly.

There is, however, significance to the number 50. There are, as I said, 50 Hail Mary beads in the main part of the Rosary.

They come in sets of 10, and so we have 5 sets of 10 beads clustered together. That’s 50 beads.

The number 50 doesn’t mean much on it’s own, but when it is multiplied by 3, you get 150.

150 is an important number.

150 … So what?

150 is the number of Psalms in the Catholic Bible. The Psalms are the hymn book and prayer book of the Catholic Church and these have always been recited by the Church.

To this very day, the Church recites the Psalms daily in the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours (click here for the Divine Office).

Priests and Bishops HAVE to pray these prayers daily. Which means they have to recite the Psalms daily.

In fact, this is so important, that though Priests are not obligated to say Mass everyday in their churches they ARE obligated to pray the Divine Office everyday!

That’s how highly the Church regards the 150 Psalms.

OK, what does this have to do with the Rosary?

A lot, actually.

In the past, the laity would not be able to recite the Psalms because they either didn’t have access to a Psalter or a Bible, or they couldn’t read.

They also were not paid to pray. The clergy were paid to pray. The laity had to engage in other forms of work and therefore didn’t have time to recite the 150 Psalms over and over.

So how were the laity to pray along with the Church? Couldn’t the laity join in?

The Church developed a really incredible and simple way for the laity to pray a lot daily. It became a well-known substitute for the Divine Office and the Psalms.

It is called the most Holy Rosary!

The laity would recite one Hail Mary instead of a Psalm. Since there are 150 Psalms in the Bible, the laity would recite 150 Hail Marys as a replacement.

This was a lot shorter than reciting all of the Psalms. The Psalms take about 4-5 hours to recite. 150 Hail Marys would take less than 1 hour.

The Rosary developed out of this practice, so that now we have the Rosary as we have it today.

This is, traditionally:

  • 15 mysteries on the life of Christ
  • 15 Our Fathers
  • 150 Hail Marys
  • 15 Glory Bes

The only number of significance here is 150 since the Rosary was originally 150 Hail Marys long.

Over time, the Church recognised that this was too much for ordinary Catholics. So the Church split the Rosary up into 3 sections:

  • The Joyful mysteries of 50 Hail Marys
  • The Sorrowful mysteries of 50 Hail Marys
  • The Glorious mysteries of 50 Hail Marys

To go with this dividing up of the Rosary, the Rosary beads were produced with only 50 Hail Mary beads in the main section of the Rosary, instead of 150.

Just as you see in the picture above.

So Rosaries today tend to only have 50 Hail Mary beads. To pray the 150 Hail Marys, one must go through the rosary beads in a circle 3 times.

So why does the Rosary have 59 beads, not 50?

Because the 50 beads only account for the 50 Hail Mary beads. But the Rosary isn’t just saying the Hail Mary.

It’s also saying the Our Father.

For every 50 Hail Marys, you say 5 Our Fathers.

So this accounts for 55 beads. 5 Our Father beads and 50 Hail Mary beads.

What about the other 4?

The four beads just after the crucifix are not of the essence of the Rosary. They are used for introductory prayers, which can vary.

Catholics pray different introductory prayers, but the most popular is the one which has been preserved in the Rosary beads:

  • 1 Our Father
  • 3 Hail Marys

So those are your other 4 beads.

Meaning that we end up with a number – 59 – which has no significance at all, so far as I can tell.

So there it is. That’s how many beads are on a Rosary, and why!

==> If you’re interested in buying a Rosary, check out this amazing company <==

If you have any questions about the Rosary, then please let me know and I’ll try and answer them.

God bless.

20 Replies to “How Many Beads are on a Rosary?”

  1. Hi Matthew,

    This is an interesting discussion about the rosary beads and their significance. Especially of the 50 beads for the Hail Marys for each mystery. And the significance of praying 50 times in lieu of the Psalms in the bible.

    Aside from really praying to the Blessed Mary and to Jesus during the recitation of the rosary, holding the rosary beads in your fingers/hand signify that we are like holding hands with our mother in heaven, which is a very reassuring gesture.


    1. Hi Marita!

      That’s a beautiful thought, thank you. Yes, I get great comfort holding the Rosary beads, even if I’m not actually praying. This in itself is very powerful.

      God bless you

  2. It’s amazing to learn about how many beads are on a rosary.  Never knew that the amount of beads represents a bible versus the cross. Can the rosary beads be of different colors?  I found this article to be very helpful and learning about the Rosary beads and I have shared your content with my social media followers. 

    1. I appreciate you sharing the content, thank you very much. It’s great for my site.

      Yes, yes, rosary beads come in all sorts of different colours! The string also that holds it all together can be all sorts of colours.

      I’ve got a lush rosary somewhere that’s got a gold crucifix, stainless steel beads, and a green paracord string that holds it all together. It’s a big bulky so I use instead my much simpler one that I got from that company I recommend at the end of the post. It’s just a simple silver-looking crucifix with olive-wood beads, held together with a dark greyish paracord string.

      Much smaller and much more accessible, especially when I’m at work. I can keep it in my pocket and take it out when I’m on break or walking to and fro from work.

      All the different colours etc. are wonderful and I wouldn’t mind collecting a few more rosaries (so long as they’re paracord, the rest have all broken on me). But God loves simplicity, so I appreciate that he found me a nice simple rosary 🙂

  3. Hi, I found your website to be very thorough and informative on the subject of rosaries. I am not of the Catholic religion so am not closely familiar with the terms and meanings, although I have heard Catholic friends talk about them. We also live opposite a Catholic Church, so we see some of the rituals and have met the local priest. Your website has given me more information on the subjects, so i really appreciate the clarifications.

    1. No problem, it’s a pleasure to help you out. God bless you. Catholic Churches are almost always open for visitors, so if you wish you can always go in and take a seat and pray. They tend to be very silent places. Good for prayer

  4. I’m new to using a Rosary for prayer, and this article was quite informative about the number of beads on a standard Rosary. You explained that there are 59 beads, but the significance seems to be mainly related to the 50 Hail Mary beads and the 5 Our Father beads. My question is, for someone who is just starting with Rosary prayers, are there any specific guidelines or tips on how to use these beads effectively for prayer?

    Additionally, you mentioned that there are introductory prayers using the four beads after the crucifix. Could you provide some examples of these introductory prayers and their significance in the context of Rosary prayer?

    1. Hello there and welcome to the site! 🙂

      Yes, I’ve got lots of posts relating to how to pray the Rosary well. You can take a look at this link:


      As for a specific post on using the beads, I haven’t got much on my site because such a query is probably better dealt with by a video, but I can answer here if you wish to do a bit of reading.

      Start on the crucifix and do the sign of the cross.

      On the very first bead after the crucifix, pray: ‘Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.’

      On the next bead, pray: ‘O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will show forth your praise.’

      On the next bead pray: ‘O God come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.’

      On the next bead, pray: ‘Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen. Alleluia.’

      Now you’re onto the fifth bead, the bead JUST BEFORE the inner circle of the Rosary beads begins.

      On this fifth bead, you announce the first mystery of the Rosary. ‘The Annunciation’. Then, on that bead, you pray one Our Father.

      Now you enter the inner circle of the Rosary and you are met immediately with 10 BEADS clumped together on either side, right? Pick a side (it really doesn’t matter which) and you can begin the 10 Hail Marys.

      Pray one Hail Mary for each bead.

      On the last bead of the 10, pray that Hail Mary. Then immediately pray the Glory Be.

      You then come to a gap in the string, and there is an isolated bead all on its own, JUST BEFORE you come to another 10 beads clumped together.

      On that isolated bead, you announce the next mystery: ‘The Visitation’. Then on that bead, pray 1 Our Father.

      Then pray another 10 Hail Marys for those next 10 beads. On the final bead, pray a Hail Mary and a Glory Be.

      And so on until you reach the end of the circle of beads and come round to the final bead of the Rosary.

      After the final Hail Mary, you pray the final Glory Be.

      And that’s it!

      It is customary to finish with the Hail Holy Queen and then the Sign of the Cross.

      When starting out this devotion, it is a good idea not to pray it all in one go. Try praying one decade at a time. That is, try just to do one or two mysteries at a time. 

      And try to pray without distractions, that is, in your bedroom or in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.

      Try to think on the mysteries as you are reciting the Hail Marys.

      That’s about it really. It’s really very simple once you’ve done it a few times.

      As for a different introduction to the Rosary, most people do the following:

      Sign of the Cross on the crucifix, followed by the Apostles Creed.

      On bead one: an Our Father.

      On the next 3 beads clumped together: a Hail Mary on each.

      Then on bead 5, the first mystery and first Our Father. Then into the inner circle.

      Hope all that helps!!!

  5. Hello Mathew, 

    “I’ve always heard that a traditional rosary has 59 beads. Yes, you are correct! A traditional Catholic rosary typically consists of 59 beads. These beads are divided into five sets of ten beads, known as decades, with each decade separated by a larger bead. The total count of 59 beads does not include any additional beads that may be present for introductory prayers or other devotional purposes. It’s worth noting that while this is the standard configuration, variations can exist in different types of rosaries used in various Christian denominations and cultural practices.

    “I’ve seen rosaries with 108 beads. Are they different?” Yes, rosaries with 108 beads do exist, and they are different from the traditional Catholic rosaries. These rosaries are commonly associated with Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. They are typically referred to as “Mala beads” and are used for meditation and prayer. In contrast to the Catholic rosary, Mala beads consist of 108 beads, which are used to count repetitions of mantras or prayers. The significance and symbolism of the number 108 vary across different spiritual traditions. So, while both traditional Catholic rosaries and Mala beads serve as tools for prayer and meditation, they differ in their bead count and religious context.

  6. What an informative and engaging post! I’ve always been fascinated by the significance and symbolism of rosaries, and your explanation about the bead count and its connection to prayers is quite enlightening.

    I’m curious to know if there are specific traditions or variations in rosary bead counts across different cultures or denominations. It would be intriguing to delve deeper into the cultural and historical aspects of rosary beads and how they may differ. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this topic, and I look forward to learning more!

    1. Hi there! Great question, this question was asking on 13th September 2023, so you can see my answer to that 🙂

      God bless.

  7. Hi Matthew, this is an interesting article post on how many beads there are on a Rosary. As someone who is still new to using a Rosary to pray this post was very insightful and helpful! I found it interesting learning about what the 59 beads represented. Thank you for sharing this information it has been very informative and useful.

  8. Wowo, this is very interesting! I didn’t make the connection between the number of Hail Marys and other prayers in Christianity. I’m not especially religious, but I can tell you that I was very interesting in your explanations. 150 Hail Marys are equivalent to the Psalms of David! Great deduction! How many times do you recommend to pray the rosary?

    1. Hi there, I’m happy to hear you found it interesting! Thank you for the encouragement. Even if I wasn’t religious myself (as I wasn’t for years) I would find the details of religions extremely interesting. As a Catholic now, I find studying other religions very stimulating, such as Islam or Judaism.

      I would recommend praying the Rosary as the Church tends to recommends it. Usually this is one Rosary a day, that is, just 5 decades/mysteries. 

      What this amounts to is one full standard Rosary, going through all 59 beads once a day.

      The Church doesn’t obligate Catholics to do this and many Catholics never pray the Rosary and this is fine, so long as they pray to God in other ways, and with sincerity when they do so.

      At her revelations at Fatima, Mary (the Lady of the Rosary) always encourages us to pray the Rosary as much as possible. So the more the better.

      The Church knows our weaknesses and how hard it is to pray the Rosary all the time, so she suggests we try to stick to just one Rosary a day, unless we feel particularly moved to pray more than this.

      Many Catholics pray many Rosaries a day. But they are exceptional. I spoke to one Catholic lady once, who told me that she doesn’t even know how many Rosaries she prays daily. Which must meant she prays a lot of Rosaries a day.

      St Padre Pio prayed as many as 50 daily, which is 50 times the 59 beads. That’s astonishing but with God all things are possible. He was incredibly unique though, and his miracles testify to this. Check him out. He only died in the 1960s.

      Hope that helps!!

  9. Hi, thank you for delving into the fascinating world of rosaries with your blog post and posing the intriguing question, ‘How Many Beads are on a Rosary?’ It’s a topic that holds both cultural and religious significance, and I’m eager to gain a deeper understanding through your insights.

    Rosaries have been used for centuries as a tool for prayer and meditation across various cultures and faiths. Their design and composition can vary, which makes me curious about the specific count of beads on different types of rosaries. Are there regional or religious variations? Or perhaps historical changes in bead counts over time?

    1. Hello there, good to hear from you!

      I cannot comment too much on other faith traditions because I am not part of them and don’t know a great deal about these issues within those other religions.

      I can say that within the Catholic Church, there are different rosaries, which shouldn’t surprise you.

      This post addresses the traditional DOMINICAN Rosary, which is USUALLY 59 beads in length.

      However, you can find Dominican Rosaries that are way larger than this, because they include ALL of the prayers for the ENTIRE Rosary. For instance, my priest is from Africa and is part of the Dominican Order. He always carries a Rosary with well over 200 beads on it, because it includes prayers for the ENTIRE Rosary and all the mysteries.

      I was tempted a while ago to buy a full-blown 15 mysteries Rosary, which would have had over 150 beads on it. I decided not to, even though it was beautiful.

      There is also the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, which has a similar number of beads, possibly even the same number of Beads. I don’t know because this isn’t my devotion, but I know that this Rosary is broken down very differently to the traditional Dominican Rosary. You pray 7 mysteries and 7 Our Fathers, and a total of 49 Hail Marys (7 for each mystery). So the gaps are all in different places to the traditional Rosary.

      Then there is the Rosary of St Michael the Archangel, which is different again.

      So there is a lot of variety, but by FAR the most common is the one discussed in this post.

      Hope that helps.

  10. This was a very interesting post about the rosary. I did not know you had to go around the circle of it about 3 times to say all the 150 Hail Marys. It was all very informative and it shows that you have a lot of experience with this topic. Does every roasary have 150 Haily Marys to say or are they customized? Would like to know since I am not a Catholic by any means. But thank you for your post as I’ve learned a lot about this topic now. Wishing you the best on your blog.

    1. Hi there, good to hear from you 🙂

      A standard Rosary is only 50 Hail Marys long, along with the 5 meditations on the life of Christ, 5 Our Fathers and 5 Glory Bes.

      If someone wants to pray the whole Rosary in a single day, then they would pray the 50 Hail Marys 3 times over, so 150.

      Most Catholics just pray 50, if they pray it at all. Many Catholics don’t pray the Rosary every day. We don’t have to pray it, but it is encouraged by the Church. It’s an extremely powerful prayer.

      God bless!

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