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The Holy Rosary

One thing is clear: although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. The repetition is nourished by the desire to be conformed ever more completely to Christ, the true program of the Christian life. Saint Paul expressed this project with words of fire: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). And again: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). The Rosary helps us to be conformed ever more closely to Christ until we attain true holiness.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, No. 26

The Rosary, in its essence, is a meditative prayer based on Scripture. Using prayers regularly recited in daily and liturgical life, we reflect upon significant moments, or Mysteries, in the lives of Jesus and Mary, which are grouped thematically and prayed on different days. The Joyful Mysteries are prayed on Mondays and Saturdays (and Sundays during the Christmas Season); the Luminous Mysteries (or Mysteries of Light) are prayed on Thursdays; the Sorrowful Mysteries are prayed on Tuesdays, Fridays (Sundays during Lent); and the Glorious Mysteries are prayed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Here at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Rosary is remembered in many places, particularly: the West, North, and East Apsidial Chapels of the Great Upper Church, Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, Our Lady of Fatima Oratory, Our Lady of Pompei Chapel, and the Rosary Walk and Garden. We invite you to come and meditate on the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary in-person Monday – Saturday at 11:35 a.m. in the Crypt Church, at 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays in the Great Upper Church, or at any time with the videos below.

Our Lady of Pompei

How to Pray the Holy Rosary

Hold the Crucifix and pray the Apostles’ Creed.
On the first large bead, pray one Our Father.
On the next three small beads, pray one Hail Mary each.
On the next large bead, pray the Glory Be, followed by the Fatima Prayer. Then announce the First Mystery, followed by a brief silence and one Our Father.
On the next ten small beads, pray one Hail Mary each.
On the next large bead announce the next Mystery and repeat the steps above until each of the five mysteries are prayed and the Rosary is finished.
After the five mysteries are complete, pray the Concluding Prayers.

The Prayers of the Holy Rosary

Prayers of the Holy Rosary

The Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Fatima Prayer

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.

Concluding Prayers

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
℟. that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us pray: O God, Whose Only-Begotten Son, by His Life, Death and Resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of Eternal Life, grant, we beseech thee, that by meditating on these Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Sub Tuum Praesidium

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin Mary.


O Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

The Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

The Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Prayed on Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the Christmas Season

To meditate upon the “joyful” mysteries, then, is to enter into the ultimate causes and the deepest meaning of Christian joy. It is to focus on the realism of the mystery of the Incarnation and on the obscure foreshadowing of the mystery of the saving Passion. Mary leads us to discover the secret of Christian joy, reminding us that Christianity is, first and foremost, euangelion, “good news”, which has as its heart and its whole content the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the one Savior of the world.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, No. 20

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary with us from the Crypt Church of the National Shrine

The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

Fruit of the Mystery: Humility

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation

Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor

Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? – Luke 1:42-43

The Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity

Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

The Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation in the Temple

Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. – Luke 2:22

The Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding in the Temple

Fruit of the Mystery: Joy in Finding Jesus

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. – Luke 2:47

The Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Prayed on Thursdays

In these mysteries, apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background. The Gospels make only the briefest reference to her occasional presence at one moment or other during the preaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 3:31-5; Jn 2:12), and they give no indication that she was present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Yet the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary’s lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ’s public ministry and it forms the Marian foundation of all the “mysteries of light.”

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, No. 21

Pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary with us from the Crypt Church of the National Shrine

The First Luminous Mystery: The Baptism in the Jordan

Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit

After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him. – Matthew 3:16-17

The Second Luminous Mystery: The Wedding at Cana

Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary

Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” … Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. – John 2:3-7

The Third Luminous Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom

Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance and Trust in God

Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”. – Mark 1:14-15

The Fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration

Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness

While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” – Luke 9:29, 35

The Fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist

Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration

Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” – Matthew 26:26-28

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Prayed on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays during the Lenten Season

Ecce homo: the meaning, origin and fulfilment of man is to be found in Christ, the God who humbles himself out of love “even unto death, death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). The sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relive the death of Jesus, to stand at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God’s love for man and to experience all its life-giving power.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, No. 22

Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary with us from the Crypt Church of the National Shrine

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin

Come, all who pass by the way, pay attention and see: Is there any pain like my pain, which has been ruthlessly inflicted upon me, with which the Lord has tormented me on the day of his blazing wrath? – Lamentations 1:12

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

Fruit of the Mystery: Purity

But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. – Isaiah 53:5

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

Fruit of the Mystery: Courage

The Lord’s anointed—our very lifebreath!—was caught in their snares, He in whose shade we thought to live among the nations. – Lamentations 4:20

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

Fruit of the Mystery: Patience

We had all gone astray like sheep, all following our own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. – Isaiah 53:6

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance

Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. – 1 Corinthians 5:7

The Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Prayed on Wednesdays and Sundays

The glorious mysteries thus lead the faithful to greater hope for the eschatological goal towards which they journey as members of the pilgrim People of God in history. This can only impel them to bear courageous witness to that “good news” which gives meaning to their entire existence.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, No. 23

Pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary with us from the Crypt Church of the National Shrine

The First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection

Fruit of the Mystery: Faith

Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. – Matthew 28:5-6

The Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

Fruit of the Mystery: Hope

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” – John 20:17

The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. -Acts 2:1-4

The Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of Mary into Heaven

Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Happy Death

Who is she that comes forth like the dawn, beautiful as the white moon, pure as the blazing sun, fearsome as celestial visions? – Song of Songs 6:10

The Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Coronation of the Blessed Mother

Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in Mary’s Intercession

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. – Revelation 12:1

Shrine Rosary

Join us in praying the Rosary with the National Shrine Rosary, so that the Gospel message will enter anew into your life, and the Blessed Virgin Mary will direct you.