Children traditionally receive a rosary when they receive their first communion, which is the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist.
Children traditionally receive a rosary when they receive their first communion, which is the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist.

The word "rosary" originally meant "crown of roses," which is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. The Catholic rosary is a devotional tool that adults and children can use to recite a series of the prayers that illuminate the central core of Catholic faith. It is a string of beads that practitioners use to keep track of a series of prayers recited in a particular order.

St. Dominic Receives the Rosary

The Catholic Church traces the invention of rosary to the year 1206 C.E. when an apparition of the Virgin Mary revealed it to St. Dominic Guzman. The rosary was a helpful way for St. Dominic to teach members of the Catholic Church about the important stages in the life of Jesus. Many people in Europe were illiterate, and therefore unable to learn about their religion through books.

What Is a Rosary?

A rosary is a string of beads divided into five groups of 10 beads by one bead, with a strand of five beads and a crucifix that hang from the bottom of the necklace. Each bead has prayers that go along with it. Catholics begin by holding the crucifix and silently praying the Apostle's Creed, then moving onto the bead above the crucifix to say an Our Father.

The Mysteries

The Mysteries of the Catholic faith are important events in the life of Jesus. They are divided into The Joyful Mysteries, The Luminous Mysteries, The Sorrowful Mysteries and The Glorious Mysteries. Each set of mysteries is recited on the rosary on a different day of the week. The last bead that joins the circular part of the necklace with the string holding the crucifix is the place where the worshiper says the First Mystery. Each single bead between a set of 10 Hail Mary prayers is where the worshiper says the next Mystery after an Our Father and prays the Glory Be prayer.

The Rosary at Fatima

Catholics believe that in 1917, an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children every month from May to October and prayed the rosary with them. By the final time, a crowd of 70,000 people had gathered to witness the vision of Mary. The people who were there at the small town of Fatima, Portugal, observed the sun move around the sky in a highly unusual way, and the muddy ground suddenly became dry. These events increased the significance of the message Mary reportedly gave to the children:, "Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world."