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Magisterial Documents: Rosarium Virginis Mariae

Magisterial Documents: Rosarium Virginis Mariae

Apostolic Letter on the Most Holy Rosary Pope John Paul II
16 October 2002

The full document is available on the internet.

Brief History

Rosarium Virginis Mariae was published by Pope John Paul II at the beginning of the twenty-fifth year of his pontificate in 2002. In gratitude to the "many graces" the Holy Father "received in these years from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum!" he wished to offer "thanks to the Lord in the words of his Most Holy M other, under whose protection I have placed my Petrine ministry: Totus Tuus!" [# 3]

As a sign of that gratitude Pope John Paul II proclaimed October 2002 - October 2003: The Year of the Rosary. He wished this document to be "a kind of Marian complement to" Novo Millennio Ineunte written for the millennial jubilee where he "invited the people of God 'start afresh from Christ.'" [#3] The document looks to Mary as a model of contemplation, "her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word, ... [his memories] impressed upon her heart." [# 10-11] This is the essence of the Rosary prayer.

In the desire to have the Rosary "become more fully a 'compendium of the Gospel,'" [#19] the Holy Father instituted a fourth series of meditations to be inserted between the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries, the Mysteries of Light [luminous mysteries]. [# 21] These mysteries are to concentrate on the public life of Jesus.

The document, lengthy and diversified in content, can be considered a practical pastoral instrument in various ways: How to pray the Rosary as a form of contemplative prayer, brief explanations of the mysteries, the meanings of the "Our Father," the ten "Hail Marys," the "Gloria," the concluding prayers, the beads, and the chain. These and the dispositions of peace and silence are shown within the context of the Rosary as a prayer of the community and family.


Introduction 1-8

The Popes and the Rosary 2
October 2002 - October 2003: The Year of the Rosary 3
Objections to the Rosary 4
A path of contemplation 5
Prayer for peace and for the family 6
"Behold, your Mother!" (Jn 19:27) 7
Following the witnesses 8

Chapter I: Contemplating Christ with Mary 9-17

A face radiant as the sun 9
Mary, model of contemplation 10
Mary's memories 11
The Rosary, a contemplative prayer 12
Remembering Christ with Mary 13
Learning Christ from Mary 14
Being conformed to Christ with Mary 15
Praying to Christ with Mary 16
Proclaiming Christ with Mary 17

Chapter II: Mysteries of Christ - Mysteries of His Mother 18-25

The Rosary, "a compendium of the Gospel" 18
A proposed addition to the traditional pattern 19
The Joyful Mysteries 20
The Luminous Mysteries 21
The Sorrowful Mysteries 22
The Glorious Mysterieis 23
From "mysteries" to the "Mystery": Mary's way 24
Mystery of Christ, mystery of man 25

Chapter III: "For Me, to Live Is Christ" 26-38

The Rosary, a way of assimilating the mystery 26
A valid method... 27
... which can nevertheless be improved 28
Announcing each mystery 29
Listening to the word of God 30
Silence 31
The "Our Father" 32
The ten "Hail Marys"
The "Gloria" 34
The concluding short prayer 35
The Rosary beads 36
The opening and closing 37
Distribution over time 38

Conclusion 39-43

"Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain linking us to God" 39
Peace 40
The family: parents... 41
... and children 42
The Rosary, a treasure to be rediscovered 43


AAS 95 (7 Jan 2003):5-36
St Paul Editions, 2002

This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Most recently updated in 2005.

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