John Paul II and the Rosary

John Paul II and the Rosary

Fr. M. Durham

The month of October, dedicated to the Holy Rosary, has once again come and gone. But it is not too late to call to mind the inspiring 2002 Apostolic letter of the late Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

In the letter he reminds us that the Rosary, though Marian in character, is centred on Christ; it is a compendium of the Gospel; it is, and always has been, a prayer of and for the family.

Quoting from Pope Paul VI he also 'drew attention to the custom, in certain regions, of highlighting the name of Christ by the addition of a phrase referring to the mystery being contemplated. This is a praise-worthy custom.'

It is the last point I would like to focus on. Note that it is an alternative form of the rosary. It does not do away with the form with which we are all familiar.

According to a Dominican priest (the Dominican order is dedicated to the Rosary) this is the way it works:

The 'phrase referring to the mystery being contemplated' is added to the first part of the 'Hail Mary', that is, it qualifies the word 'Jesus.' This is done ten times (the decade) and the 'Holy Mary' is recited only once at the end of each decade. The 'Glory be' follows as usual.

It is of interest to note that the 'Holy Mary' is a 15th century addition to the 'Hail Mary'. The first part of the 'Hail Mary' is, of course, taken straight from the New Testament (Luke 1, 28).

There is no doubt that this form of the Rosary helps to concentrate on the mystery being contemplated, especially when it is said privately. It would also be appropriate in a family situation.

Below are some practical suggestions of phrases for the various mysteries. (Each person, however, is free to compose alternative acclamations, so long as they refer to the mysteries being celebrated).


1. Jesus, conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2. Jesus, carried in Mary's womb on his first visitation.

3. Jesus, born for us in a stable at Bethlehem.

4. Jesus, presented by Mary in his Father's temple.

5. Jesus, lost and found after three days teaching in the temple.


1. Jesus, baptised by John in the Jordan

2. Jesus, working his first miracle at Cana at his Mother's request

3. Jesus, proclaiming the kingdom and calling us to repentance.

4. Jesus, transfigured on the mountain in the presence of Peter, James and John.

5. Jesus, instituting the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood at the Last Supper.


1. Jesus, praying in agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

2. Jesus, cruelly scourged at the pillar.

3. Jesus, mocked as a king and crowned with thorns.

4. Jesus, carrying his cross to Calvary.

5. Jesus, dying for love of us on the cross.


1. Jesus, rising gloriously from the dead on the third day.

2. Jesus, ascending after 40 days to his Father in heaven.

3. Jesus, sending down the Holy Spirit of power and love.

4. Jesus, assuming his Mother into heaven.

5. Jesus, crowning his Mother as Queen of heaven and earth.

Pope Adrian VI: 'The Rosary is the scourge of the devil.'

Pope Paul V: 'The Rosary is a treasury of graces.'

St. Padre Pio: 'The Rosary is the weapon.'

by Fr M. Durham, a retired Queensland priest.

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