During the middle ages the devotion to Mary was deep and sincere in Scandinavia. Each prayer in the rosary was imagined to transform into a rose which was given by the heart to the blessed virgin mother.


I have previously written some entries on this blog about Swedish medieval church paintings picturing the mysteries.

The Rosary have appeared in different versions and with different length through the ages. Already in the eleventh century it was common to pray long sets of Ave Maria. Only the first half was prayed:

Ave María, grátia plena,
Dóminus tecum.
Benedícta tu in muliéribus,
et benedíctus fructus ventris tui,

Somewhere around the twelfth or thirteenth century it became common to pray the rosary in 150 decades, one for each psalm in the Psalter, (hence the name Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary). In some monasteries, the munk’s contemplated certain events in Mary’s life.

About 1410 St Dominic, Founder of the Order of Preachers, constructed a version with 50 secrets from the life of Jesus and Mary. In many ways we have the Dominicans to thank for spreading the practice of this prayer. For instance it was the Dominican Alain de la Roche who grouped 50 decades into three series.

In 1545 the second half of the prayer Ave Maria were added by the council of Trent:

Sancta María, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatóribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostræ.

In 1569 Pope Pius V issued an apostolic letter the Consueverunt Romani – Call to Prayer – where he established the official, Church-authorized version of the Rosary which are still used today:

and so Dominic looked to that simple way of praying and beseeching God, accessible to all and wholly pious, which is called the Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which the same most Blessed Virgin is venerated by the angelic greeting repeated one hundred and fifty times, that is, according to the number of the Davidic Psalter, and by the Lord’s Prayer with each decade. Interposed with these prayers are certain meditations showing forth the entire life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thus completing the method of prayer devised by the Fathers of the Holy Roman Church.
(Consueverunt Romani by Pius V – 17 September, 1569)

Today the Rosary are prayed in different versions. The Fatima apparition added a part which is commonly used by devote Catholics of today.

When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: ‘O Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.’ “ (From the Fatima message, 1917)


As I have wrote about earlier John Paul II added the Luminious mysterious in the Apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae in 2002. and here’s an instruction on how to pray the rosary from the Vatican: The mysteries of the Rosary



I got the most of the facts from an article by the Swedish expert Florence Vilén. The article was published in a book called “En bok om Rosenkransen och dess mysterier” from Jungfru Maria Skriftserie by Vettertryck AB.