Hello there Rosary Lovers! In this post we will look at the 15 mysteries Rosary.

I thought there was only one type of Rosary?

Actually there are a number of different rosary prayers.

There’s the Rosary of St Joseph.

There’s the 20 mysteries Rosary, which is the Dominican Rosary + 5 extra mysteries added by St John Paul II.

There’s the 18 mysteries Rosary of St Bridget of Sweden, used by Carmelites, often called the Carmelite Rosary.

There’s the traditional 15 mysteries Rosary, the one made popular by St Dominic.

This post is about the last one.

What is the 15 mysteries Rosary?

The Rosary of the 15 mysteries is usually called the Dominican Rosary. It was made popular by St Dominic in the 13th century, but probably existed before him.

It is also known as the Traditional Rosary, because it is one of the oldest rosaries, and has been prayed by more saints than any other kind of rosary in the Church.

The traditional Rosary also contains 150 Hail Marys, which is significant.

150 is the number of Psalms in the Catholic Scriptures. Monks and clerics would pray the 150 Psalms regularly as part of the Church’s official prayer. This is called the Divine Office, or the Liturgy of the Hours.

Since the laity didn’t have ready assess to copies of the Scriptures, and most couldn’t read, they chose instead to pray one Our Father as a replacement for each Psalm.

This later changed to one Hail Mary for each Psalm, possibly because the Hail Mary is shorter than the Our Father.

The Rosary kept the Our Fathers, but shortened these to one per mystery. The Hail Marys were 10 per mystery.

15 mysteries = 15 Our Fathers and 150 Hail Marys.

So the Rosary has always been the laity’s replacement for reciting the Psalms and the Divine Office, or the official daily prayers of the Church.

As it happens, the Rosary is also prayed regularly by many clerics and even by Popes. Popes who have loved the Rosary are:

  • St John Paul II
  • Venerable Pope John Paul I
  • Pope Leo XIII
  • St John XXIII
  • St Pope Paul VI
  • The current Pope Francis

And there are more.

So the Rosary has really taken on a life of its own within the Catholic Church and is no longer simply a sort of ‘second best’ replacement for the Divine Office.

In an important sense, the Rosary is one of the greatest prayers in the Church, and Catholics of every kind are warmly encouraged to recite it regularly.

It consists of 15 mysteries of the life of Christ. These mysteries are split up into 3 groups, each containing 5 mysteries.

The first group is the Joyful mysteries.

The second group is the Sorrowful mysteries.

The third group is the Glorious Mysteries.

These mysteries form a complete whole. They give us the most important events in the life of Christ and the most important aspects of the Christian Gospel.

What are the Joyful mysteries?

The Joyful mysteries are:

  1. The Annunciation
  2. The Visitation
  3. The Nativity
  4. The Presentation (of Jesus in the Temple)
  5. The Finding of Jesus

What are the Sorrowful mysteries?

The Sorrowful mysteries are:

  1. The Agony in the Garden
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar
  3. The Crowning with Thorns
  4. The Carrying of the Cross
  5. The Crucifixion

What are the Glorious mysteries?

The Glorious mysteries are:

  1. The Resurrection
  2. The Ascension
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost)
  4. The Assumption (of Mary)
  5. The Coronation (of Mary, as Queen of heaven and earth)

How do you pray the Dominican Rosary?

First of all, get yourself a Rosary. This link will help.

When you have a Rosary, get it blessed by a Catholic priest.

Now, very simply, you begin with the Sign of the Cross, then pray one Our Father and 3 Hail Marys, followed by one Glory Be.

That’s your introduction. Now for the actual Rosary.

You start at the beginning of the circle within the Rosary, and you announce the first mystery, which is the Annunication.

You then recite one Our Father and 10 Hail Marys in commemoration of this mystery.

Finish with a Glory Be.

That’s one mystery prayed. We also call this a decade (because it’s 10 Hail Marys long).

You then announce the second mystery: the Visitation. Pray one Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and one Glory Be.

And so on throughout the Rosary.

When you have finished the 5th mystery, you’ll have completed the circle/circuit around the Rosary.

That’s one entire set/group of mysteries prayed, and we call this one complete Rosary. You can stop here if you want.

You don’t have to pray it all in one go. You can break it up throughout the day.

If this is the only Rosary you pray on a given day, you can choose whatever set of mysteries you wish. You don’t have to start with the Joyful mysteries.

But the best way to pray the Dominican Rosary is to keep going and to pray ALL of the mysteries in one day, each and every day. This is what the traditional Rosary is designed for.

St Louis de Montfort tells us in his amazing book ‘The Secret of the Rosary’ that praying 5 mysteries a day of the Rosary is a good and worthy devotion, though it is really ideal for children more than for adults.

If we wish to be adults in the faith, it is a better idea to try to pray the entire Dominican Rosary each and every day of our lives.

Perhaps we don’t feel called to this, and perhaps we simply don’t have the time – although I think if you break the mysteries up throughout your day, you’ll find this to be fairly easy.

When you have finished praying the Rosary for the day, finish with the Hail Holy Queen.

In a nutshell, that’s the Dominican Rosary!

Happy Rosary praying!

‘The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.’ – St Josemaria Escriva

4 Replies to “What is the 15 mysteries Rosary?”

  1. Once again, thank you for the beautiful explanation of the Rosary.  To be honest, I did not know all of what you talked about here.  I knew about how many hail Mary’s and how many Our Fathers were said, but I didn’t realize that it kind of replaced the Divine Office in a sense.  Thank you for that information.  I personally love the joyful mysteries.  They really do bring joy to the heart to meditate upon what each one actually means.

  2. This was a very beautifully well-written and informative piece. Although I am not deeply religious myself, I have a great respect for those who are.  To be able to find a place to truly feel the spirit and learn the ways to keep our souls holy is something to aspire to.  I have yet to find a church that has allowed me to feel the spirit, but my search will continue!  And while I also do not fully have the knowledge about the Hail Marys, Glory Bes, and Our Fathers I imagine they are all beautiful to hear and wonderful for the soul to recite and embrace.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge on Rosary’s for those less educated on subjects like this, like myself. Gives me a delightful insight to a world I don’t know.  May you have a blessed day.

    1. Many thanks for your beautiful response to my post. May God lead you carefully and closely through your life. 

      God bless you

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