In 2002, Pope John Paul II, declared the following year would be the "Year of the Rosary" and added 5 new mysteries to the original 15 mysteries of the Catholic Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries, celebrating public events in the life of Christ. This was the first change to the Rosary in centuries. Today, rosary beads are a beloved sacramental of devout Catholics around the world.
One story of the origin of the rosary beads relates to St. Dominic, who, in 1214, was trying to convert non-believers. It is said that Dominic was visited by The Blessed Mother who instructed him to use the rosary to combat heresy and to spread devotion. There is conflicting documentation regarding this story, but many believers maintain its relevance.
The first rosary beads would have looked different than the Catholic Rosary as we know it today. An early Christian rosary had 150 beads representing the 150 Psalms which were recited by the monks as part of their daily prayers. There is historical reference to support that a system of counting these prayers was used as early as the 4th century by the Desert Monks using a pile of stones or knots on a string. In Medieval times, the use of rosary beads was adopted by the laity, as many could not read, the repetitive and regular reciting of the Pater Noster (Latin for "Our Father"), and later the Hail Mary, while meditating on the prayer beads was a way to show their devotion to their Christian faith. Catholics are encouraged to say the Holy Rosary as requested by Mary, and it is believed that when recited in groups, the prayers have a certain power above the single prayer.
Today, the rosary remains a tool to help focus prayer and ask Mary to intercede on ones behalf as they seek God's mercy. Rosary beads are part of a treasured devotional experience by those who practice it throughout the world. Praying on the rosary beads is routine in the life of a Catholic and is looked upon as a privilege and a blessing, and so devout Catholics, and other Christians, look forward to the time that is set aside for this purpose. Many carry rosary beads with them everyday. Catholics give rosaries as religious gifts to commemorate special occasions and religious rites such as a birth, Baptism/Christening, First Communion, Confirmation or wedding. There are beautiful and unique rosary beads available today. They are used and treasured by young and old alike.
By: Michael Raphael