(taken from the United States Catechim for Adults, USCCB, 2006)
The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. It begins with the Apostles' Creed, which is itself a summary of the great mysteries of Catholic faith, based on Scripture, from creation through redemption and up to the Resurrection of the body and everlasting life. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is taken from the Gospels. The first part of the Hail Mary is composed from verses from the Gospel of Luke (1:29 and 1:42), the angel's words announcing Christ's birth and Elizabeth's greeting to Mary. St. Pius V offically added the second part to the Hail Mary.
The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ's life.
The Joyful Mysteries - the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and the fiding of the Child Jesus after Three Days in the Temple
The Sorrowful Mysteries - Christ's suffering and death: the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the cross, and the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
The Glorious Mysteries - the Resurrection, the Ascension into Heaven, the Sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Pentecost, the Assumption of Mary, and the Crowning of Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth
The Luminous Mysteries - the Baptism of the Lord, the Miracle at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist
The popularity of the Rosary has been attributed to Sr. Dominic and the Cominican Order. It grew out of the laity's desire to have 150 prayers to match the 150 psalms chanted by the Monks in monasteries. In 1569, St. Pius V officially recommended the praying "of 150 angellic salutaions... with the Lord's prayer at each decade... while meditation on the mysteries which recall the entire life of our Lord Jesus Christ."
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