Pope Francis: ‘Never abandon the Rosary’

May 11, 2021

Many popes have encouraged Catholics to keep a special relationship with the Blessed Mother through the praying the Rosary. (Courtesy photo)

HOUSTON — When Pope Francis shared some advice to faithful Catholics and said: “Never abandon the Rosary. Never abandon the Rosary. Pray the Rosary, as she asked,” he joined a long line of popes who have called the Rosary their favorite form of prayer.

The Christian who stays close to the Virgin Mary is “like a child near his mother,” who should never be afraid, he said after his 2017 trip to visit Fatima, Portugal.

In 2007, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that “The Rosary is a means given by the Virgin for contemplating Jesus and, meditating on His life, for loving and following Him always more faithfully.”

The pope emeritus is known for praying the Rosary “each morning and uses it to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”

In 1883, Pope Leo XIII said that “the Rosary as an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society.”

According to the U.S. bishops, the Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer.

It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels.

The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. St. Pius V officially added the second part of the Hail Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life. There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and — added by St. John Paul II in 2002 — the Luminous.

The repetition in the Rosary is meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each mystery. The gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts, where Christ’s spirit dwells.


A blessed Rosary is a sacramental that can be carried around, held or kissed, even when not recited. The Rosary can be said privately or with a group.

During the pandemic, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo urged Catholics to continue maintaining their faith, especially by praying the Rosary.

“Sunday is still the Lord’s Day,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “Families should gather to pray, read Scripture, recite the Rosary and reflect together on their faith.”

In St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, he wrote that the Rosary, “the clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer.”

“In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium,” said St. John Paul II. “It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive incarnation which began in her virginal womb.”

St. John Paul II said that “with the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of His love.”

“Through the Rosary, the faithful receive abundant grace as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer,” he continued.

Some attribute the Rosary’s origins to St. Dominic. Tradition holds that the Blessed Mother appeared to him in 1208 in a French church in Prouille and gave him the Rosary, teaching him how to pray it and to spread the devotion. Today, Dominicans remain a major promoter of the Rosary and its devotions.

Throughout time, prayers have been added to the Rosary. For example, Our Lady of the Rosary, as she identified herself at Fatima in 1917, asked the young visionaries to include a new prayer after each decade, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy Mercy.”

Devotions to Our Lady through the Rosary abound, especially during the month of May. The variety of the devotions reflect the diversity of the Church’s needs and its gifts. Some popular devotions include praying the Rosary for Pro-life intentions, for justice and peace, and for other prayers.

In May, when many churches crown Mary as Queen, rose gardens at many parishes thrive in the springtime. Bright red and pink roses color special prayer gardens, both simple and intricate, drawing devotees deeper into prayer through nature’s beauty and natural reflective environment. 

Editor’s Note: Living a Life of Prayer continues a series that explores the deeper meaning, context and history of some of the Church’s greatest treasures: its prayers.

How to pray the Rosary

rosary
  1. Make the Sign of the Cross.
  2. Holding the Crucifix, say the Apostles' Creed.
  3. On the first bead, say an Our Father.
  4. Say one Hail Mary on each of the next three beads.
  5. Say the Glory Be
  6. For each of the five decades, announce the Mystery (perhaps followed by a brief reading from Scripture) then say the Our Father.
  7. While fingering each of the ten beads of the decade, next say ten Hail Marys while meditating on the Mystery. Then say a Glory Be.
    (After finishing each decade, some say the following prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.)
  8. After saying the five decades, say the Hail, Holy Queen, followed by this dialogue and prayer:
    V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
    R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
    Let us pray: O God, whose Only Begotten Son, by his life, Death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

(A prayer to St. Joseph may also follow.) Conclude the Rosary with the Sign of the Cross.