Many religions use prayer beads as while meditating or praying. The Christian version of prayer beads is called a rosary. The term "rosary" comes from the Latin word "rosarius," which means bouquet or garland of roses. The connection between roses and Christian prayer beads is unknown. Catholics use a 59 bead rosary. Anglicans and other Protestants use a 33 bead rosary.
Catholic Rosary History
The practice of counting prayers on a series of beads or knots dates back to the fourth century when monks used to count repetitions of the Jesus prayer on a knotted woolen rope. All of the pieces of the rosary -- the prayers, the beads and the meditations -- didn't come together until the Carthusian monks of Trier put them together in the early 15th century. By the end of the 15th century, the practice of saying the rosary had spread among Catholics.
The Catholic rosary begins with a recitation of the Apostle's Creed, the Lord's Prayer, three Hail Marys and the Gloria Patri, also known as "Glory be to the Father." The two main prayers of the Catholic rosary are ancient. The Our Father, also called the Lord's Prayer, dates back to the time of Jesus. Pieces of the Hail Mary are also biblical. The Catholic Encyclopedia traces the Hail Mary in its current form to roughly 1050 A.D. This introduction is followed by five decades of the rosary. Each decade is ten beads separated by a single bead. Each of the ten beads counts a Hail Mary. The single bead marks an Our Father. Some Catholics add an "O, My Jesus" prayer and a Gloria Patri at the end of each decade. During the recitation of each decade, the person praying will also be meditating on one of the twenty mysteries. These mysteries are events from the life of Jesus. At the end of the rosary are two prayers: Hail, Holy Queen and O God, whose only begotten Son. The closing blessing is "In the Name of the Father. . ." and the sign of the cross.
Anglican Rosary History
The purpose of the Anglican rosary is to create a focus for contemplative prayer in much the same way as the Catholic rosary does.The Anglican rosary is much younger than the Catholic. The Society of St. Francis, an Anglican monastic order, traces the origins to an Episcopal contemplative prayer group in the United States in the 1980s. Before that time, most Protestants did not pray the rosary, Catholic or otherwise. The tradition in Protestantism is that the Hail Mary is not a prayer but a salutation. So when the Anglican rosary was developed, some Anglo Catholics used it to say Hail Marys, but most Anglicans used it to say prayers from the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer.
The Anglican rosary has one invitatory bead just above the cross. This is followed by four "weeks" of beads. A week is seven beads in sequence, and each week is separated by a cruciform bead. The four cruciform beads are called that because they form a cross. The entire rosary has 33 beads, one for each year of Christ's life. The prayers assigned to each bead are not as fixed as the prayers of the Catholic rosary. Some Anglicans use prayers from the Morning and Evening Prayers of the Book of Common Prayer. Others use the Jesus Prayer, the Kyrie, verses of the Bible or other traditional prayers of the church.
- Beads and Prayers: The Rosary in History and Devotion; John Desmond Miller
- The Catholic Encyclopedia: The Rosary
- The Catholic Encyclopedia: Hail Mary
- New Advent: How to Recite the Holy Rosary
- The Rosary Center: How to Pray the Rosary
- The Society of St. Francis: The Anglican Rosary
- King of Peace: Anglican Prayer Beads
- Mary Magdalene's Retreat: Anglican Rosary Prayer Beads
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