The Rosary is a popular and powerful religious practice. And like many devotions, it has evolved over time. The Rosary we pray today is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the Rosary Catholics prayed centuries ago.
Here are 5 ways the Rosary has changed over the centuries:
1) The “Hail Mary” prayer has changed
The “Hail Mary” prayer today isn’t the same “Hail Mary” that Catholics have always prayed. Originally, it was only the verses from Scripture, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1.28, 42)
Over time, people added the words “Mary” and “Jesus” to make it clearly who they were talking about. And finally, in the 15th and 16th centuries, the final petition was added: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”
2) The Luminous Mysteries
For centuries, the Rosary officially had only 3 sets of mysteries, the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Then in 2002 Pope St. John Paul II added the Luminous mysteries, which focus on the ministry of Christ.
3) The Fatima Prayer
At the request of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917, many Catholics add the “Fatima prayer” at the end of each decade: “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in my need of thy mercy.”
4) The Scriptural Rosary
Going back at least to the 15th century, some Catholics have added an extra line to each Hail Mary from Scripture related to the mystery on which they are meditating.
Early versions of what would become the Rosary in the 11th and 12th centuries practiced by religious communities included genuflecting and prostrating oneself at various points.