Prayer beads are common in many cultures for example, in Buddhism, they are known as Malas. The Rosary which is specific to Roman Catholicism is devoted to Mary the Blessed Virgin and Mother of Jesus Christ.
Catholics believe the Rosary is a remedy against severe trials, temptations and the hardships of life, and that the Rosary is one of the great weapons given to believers in their battle against evil. They are almost always found on Catholic gravestones as a symbol of devotion to Mary and constant prayer for the deceased person.
The Rosary is comprised of a set of beads to recall events in the life of Jesus and Mary. They are arranged in five sets of ten (decade) and each decade is separated from the next by a larger bead. The two ends of the rosary are joined by a small string holding a crucifix, two large beads, and three small beads, 59 beads in total.
The Joyful Mysteries
- The Annunciation: Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
- The Visitation: Mary visits Elizabeth, who tells her that she will always be remembered.
- The Nativity: Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem.
- The Presentation: Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple: Jesus is found in the Temple discussing his faith with the teachers.
The Sorrowful Mysteries
- The Agony in the Garden:Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before he dies.
- The Scourging at the Pillar: Jesus is lashed with whips.
- The Crowning With Thorns: Jesus is mocked and crowned with thorns.
- The Carrying of the Cross: Jesus carries the cross that will be used to crucify him.
- The Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies.
The Glorious Mysteries
- The Resurrection: God the Father raises Jesus from the dead.
- The Ascension: Jesus returns to his Father in heaven.
- The Coming of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit comes to bring new life to the disciples.
- The Assumption of Mary: At the end of her life on earth, Mary is taken body and soul into heaven.
- The Coronation of Mary: Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The Luminous Mysteries were introduced by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
- The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan: God proclaims that Jesus is his beloved Son.
- The Wedding Feast at Cana: At Mary’s request, Jesus performs his first miracle turning water into wine.
- The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God: Jesus calls all to conversion and service to the Kingdom.
- The Transfiguration of Jesus: Jesus is revealed in glory to Peter, James, and John.
- The Institution of the Eucharist: Jesus offers his Body and Blood at the Last Supper.