Just How Long Is A Rosary Anyway?

This may seem like an unusual question, but just how long is a rosary? How many prayers does it take to pray the rosary?

The Short Answer

The rosary consists of fifteen mysteries, three sets of five each: the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious. For each mystery, also referred to as a “decade”, one prays one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and a Glory Be, meditating on that mystery throughout. At the very beginning of the rosary, one prays an Apostle’s Creed, an Our Father, and three Hail Marys for an increase in the cardinal virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. After all the mysteries have been completed, a Hail Holy Queen is prayed. Other prayers may be added, but these are the bare necessities.

When the Blessed Virgin Mary came down from heaven and revealed the rosary to Saint Dominic in a vision, the above is pretty much what she revealed.

What Does This Mean For Me In Practice?

It is a common practice to pray one set of mysteries (or five decades) a day. It usually involves a scheduled rotation of mysteries: Joyful on Monday and Thursday, Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, and Glorious on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

While this schedule of prayers is certainly meritorious, it is not praying the rosary daily. Rather, it is praying but one-third of the rosary a day. Or it could be considered praying the rosary twice a week.

Though it can seem daunting at first, I highly recommend praying one full rosary a day. In my experience, it does not end up taking as much time as one originally fears. There is no shame or harm in breaking it up throughout the day: perhaps praying the Joyful mysteries in the morning, the Sorrowful at lunch, and the Glorious after dinner. Or perhaps you can forego an hour-long television program and spend 45 minutes praying the rosary instead.

Our Lady has asked us innumerable times to pray the rosary. The rosary she gave us is longer than most Catholics realize, but it is the one she asked us to pray. We should follow the fourth commandment and do what our mother asks.