Many Catholics are familiar with the prayer of the Rosary, but not as many know why we use Rosary beads when praying this holy and powerful prayer.
Why do we use Rosary beads?
The simple answer is that Catholics use Rosary beads because they are practical; they help us keep track as we pray. Each decade contains 10 Hail Mary's, and after a while, the repetition of the prayers can make it hard to remember how many you have prayed already.
People have been using different ways to count their prayers for hundreds of years. Monks used to pray with pebbles and eventually started using a prayer rope. It is said that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appeared to Saint Dominic and gave him a Rosary. The tradition of praying the Rosary has been alive ever since. For more history on why we use beads, check out our blog: The History of Praying the Rosary - Where did the Rosary beads come from?.
Because the Rosary is a meditative prayer, it is helpful to have beads that tell us where we are at in the prayer. Beads help us to enter deeper without having to worry about what prayer is next, how many Hail Mary's we have prayed, or if we forgot a decade.
What prayers do the Rosary beads represent?
There are many different prayers that can be prayed on the Rosary beads, but the traditional Rosary consists of a few basic prayers many Catholics already know.
The different beads tell us which prayer to say. Here’s a PDF that visually shows which prayers are said on what beads.
First section of beads:
- The Crucifix is the Apostle’s Creed.
- The first bead is the Our Father. Notice the space between the first Our Father beads and the following Hail Mary beads throughout the Rosary.
- The next three beads are Hail Marys.
- In the space between the Hail Mary beads and the Our Father beads is when we pray the Glory Be and Fatima prayer.
- Each decade starts with the single bead separated from the line of ten beads, and on it we pray the Our Father.
- The ten beads are all Hail Marys.
- At the end of each decade, the Glory Be and Fatima prayer are prayed.
- At the end of the Rosary, there is often a medal of Our Lady or another image linking the first section of beads with the five decades. You can pray the Hail Holy Queen on this medal.
- The concluding Rosary Prayer is prayed after the Hail Holy Queen, which can also be said on the medal.
For step-by-step instructions on how to pray the Rosary, check out this detailed guide.
Do you have to pray a Rosary on beads?
Using Rosary beads is one of the more common ways to pray this prayer to Our Lady, but it’s not the only way to pray it! Below are a few ideas to pray the Rosary when you don't have a set of Rosary beads nearby.
Use your fingers!
God gave us 10 fingers - the perfect number for the 10 Hail Mary's in each decade. You can easily count along your fingers to keep track of your prayers.
Keep a Rosary in your Wallet
Another convenient, on-the-go way to pray the rosary while keeping track of your prayers is with the Rosary card. It's a credit-card sized rosary that conveniently fits in your wallet. Everywhere you go, you'll have a Rosary with you.
Bring a Rosary Bracelet or a Rosary Ring
Also, there are Rosary bracelets and rings that can be worn and encourage prayer throughout the day.
Pray along with a Youtube Video
There's a number of great Rosary Youtube videos that you can pray along with, it's just like praying in community. My favorite is the one from Ascension Presents.
Use a Pen and Paper
If all else fails, just find a pen and paper to keep track. You could even draw a Rosary and mark off the beads (circles) as you pray them. Regardless, don't let the lack of beads keep you from praying the Rosary!
The Rosary is a prayer meant to help us go deeper into the mysteries of the life of Christ and His family. A beauty of this prayer is that whether we have our own beads to pray on or not, this prayer can be said anytime, anywhere!
The Rosary Card - Built For Convenience
This article was brought to you buy the Everyday Prayer Co, if you found it helpful, please check out our Rosary Cards. They are designed for convenience (same size as a Credit Card) and make it much easier to pray the Rosary often.
See more options here.
Please let me know how your journey with the Rosary is going, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And don't forget about our free Rosary Guide Download. Keep Praying!