Rosary

The Franciscan Rosary: An Introduction

During the Middle Ages, most lay people were not able to read and understand the psalms and scriptures that accompanied the prayers of the Church up until that time. For this reason, at the beginning of the thirteenth century (corresponding with the latter half of the life of Saint Francis), a series of prayers were introduced to help the faithful maintain their relationship with God and His Church.

Among these prayers was the Rosary. It consisted of the recital of “Hail Marys” and “Our Fathers” counted on beads. In time, the Rosary would become one of the most popular forms of personal prayer and devotion. The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) first promoted the Rosary in the form that we know today. But at the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) introduced a new version of the Rosary that focused on the joyful events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to tradition, the Franciscan Rosary was born of a particular event: a young man who had entered the Franciscan Order was tempted to surrender his vocation, but was visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary who encouraged him to persevere with his vocation to religious life; and to meditate each day upon seven joyful episodes in her life:

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity of Jesus
  • The Adoration of the Magi
  • The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
  • The Encounter with the Risen Lord
  • The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

The devotion to the Franciscan Rosary spread quickly throughout the worldwide Franciscan community and was approved by Pope Leo X in 1517.

Praying the Franciscan Rosary

One begins the Franciscan Rosary by praying the Lord’s Prayer, followed by praising the Trinity by praying: “Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Next, each of the seven mysteries is introduced with the Lord’s Prayer; then ten Hail Marys; and a Glory Be. After the seventh and last decade, another two Hail Marys are recited in order to achieve a total of seventy-two, the number of years (according to tradition) that the Blessed Mother lived upon this earth.

The Franciscan Rosary concludes with an additional Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father; followed by the Hail Holy Queen and the Closing Prayer. Let us join together with Franciscans throughout the world in praying this Rosary for intercession of our Blessed Mother – for our selves, for our fellowship, for our parish, and for the Church.

Mary’s First Joy: The Annunciation

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke:

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph of the House of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you!” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.” (Luke 1:26-32)

From the Writings of Saint Francis: “Holy Lady, I salute you! His Palace, I salute you! His Tent, I salute you! His House, I salute you! His Clothing, I salute you! His Handmaid, I salute you! His Mother, I salute you!”

Mary’s Second Joy:  The Visitation

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke:

In those days, Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:39-42)

From the Writings of Saint Francis: “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, who is, who was, and who is to come! Let us praise Him and exalt Him forever! The Lord God is worthy to receive praise and glory and honor forever and ever! Amen!”

Mary’s Third Joy: The Nativity of Jesus

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke:

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7)

From the Franciscan Sources: “Above all the other solemn feast days, Saint Francis celebrated the birth of the child Jesus at Christmas with great attention and devotion – the day when God took the form of a child and suckled at his mother’s breast.”

Mary’s Fourth Joy: The Adoration of the Maji

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:

When (the Magi) had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

From the Writings of Saint Francis: “You are holy, only Lord God, who works marvels! You are strong! You are great! You are the Most High! You are the all-powerful King! You are the Holy Father, King of Heaven and Earth!”

Mary’s Fifth Joy: The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke:

When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you with great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:43-49)

From the Writings of Saint Francis: “Oh, how holy, how dear, how pleasant and humble, how peaceful, sweet and lovely and above all things desirable to have such a brother who prays for us to the Father, saying “Holy Father, keep safe in your Name those you have given me!”

Mary’s Sixth Joy: The Encounter with the Risen Lord

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:8-10)

From the Writings of Saint Francis: “Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel, who has redeemed the souls of his servants with his most precious blood: those who hope in Him will never become lost!”

Mary’s Seventh Joy: The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

A Reading from the Book of Revelation:

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)

From the Writings of Saint Francis: “Holy Virgin Mary, there is no one, born among women, that compares to you! You are the daughter of the Most High King, our Heavenly Father, and you are Mother of our Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, and you are Bride of the Holy Spirit! Pray for us with Saint Michael the Archangel and with all the powers of heaven and with all the saints to your Most Beloved Son, our Lord and Master!”

Closing Prayer

Almighty God and Father, through the Glorious resurrection of your Son, you have given joy to the whole world! Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant that we may enjoy life without end! We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

About Us

Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of ‘Franciscans in Spirit’ with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. In 2017, in celebration of our 10th anniversary, we will lead our annual fall pilgrimage to Assisi; meet monthly for Mass, faith formation, and faith sharing; and offer adults several opportunities to experience a Franciscan-style “hermitage retreat.” For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for faith formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at c.garvey@ymail.com. May the Lord give you peace!

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