A Glorious Mystery; Let Us Pray: Rosary Beads Vary from Culture to Culture

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QUESTIONWhere did theRosary originate?

WHILEtheRosaryisoneofthe mostcherishedprayersof the Catholic church, its origins are one of its greatest mysteries.

Traditionally,theideaof the Rosary is said to have come from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It began as a practice used by the laitytoimitatetheDivineOffice saidin

monasteries, when the monks prayed daily, using the 150 Psalms.

Many of the laity could not read, so they substituted up to 150 Ave Marias(Hail Marys) for the Psalms.Graffitifoundonancient Christian sites near Jerusalem suggestthat the practice began as early as the second century AD.

ButthewordRosarywasn't used until the 13th century. Previously,they had been known as paternosters, Latin for Our Father.

Thesaintcreditedwithdevising theRosary as it is known today was St Dominic, who died in 1221.

What distinguishes it from other forms of prayer is that, along with the vocalprayers, a series of meditations are also made.

However, the first recorded use of thewordtorefertoprayerbeads didnt come until 1597. In the 16th century,whenMuslimTurks were ravaging eastern Europe, the Rosary gained much in popularity.

Fromthe16thtotheearly20th century, no changes were made to the Rosary, but in 1917, Our Lady ofFatima asked that the Fatima Prayer should be added.

In 2002, Pope John Paul II introducedtheLuminousMysteries whichincludetheBaptismof Jesus, the wedding at Cana, Jesus proclamationof the Kingdom, the Transfiguration, and the first Eucharist. .

A set of Rosary beads contains 50 beads in groups of 10each representingadecadeof the Rosary with an additional large bead before each decade.

SomesetsofRosarybeadshave 100oreven150beads.Thebeads themselves are made from all kinds ofmaterialsthatsometimeshave special religious significance, such asjetstonefromtheshrineof StJamesat Santiago de Compostela or olive seeds from the Garden of Gethsemane.

Manytraditionssurroundthe Rosary. At one time, Irish speaking parts of the country had a tradition ofsaying 13 Ave Marias rather than 10,inhonourofStAnthonyof Padua, whose feast day is on June 13, but these Rosary beads are very raretoday.

Niall Walsh, Dublin.

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