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Rosary, Biblical Basis

Biblical Basis for the Rosary

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: Is there a biblical basis for the Rosary?

A: As you know the bible does "not" tell us to pray the Rosary because this form of prayer originated only during the middle ages. However, important elements of the Rosary are biblical and/or belong to the common Christian beliefs. Judge for yourself.

1) The "creed" or profession of faith at the beginning of the Rosary is nothing else but the earliest baptismal profession still common to all Christian documentation.

2) The "Our Father"—also part of the Rosary—is literally biblical.

3) Among the "twenty mysteries" there are very few which are not directly biblical, namely the Assumption of Mary and her crowning. The Assumption is related to Gen 3,15; the crowning can be assimilated to Apoc 12.1.

4) The first part of the "Hail Mary" corresponds to the Angel's salutation at the Annunciation and that of Elisabeth at the Visitation (Lk 1:28 and 2:42).

5) The second half, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death," might be understood as follows:

"Holy Mary" again corresponds to the biblical passage of the Annunciation (Lk 1:28: "full of grace")

"Mother of God" is the very meaning of the biblical annunciation even if the term as such was approved at Ephesus (431)

"Pray for us": although not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, the intercession can be related to the Wedding Feast at Cana where Mary intercedes with her Son for the young couple in trouble. See also Lk 18:13. The earliest prayer of intercession regarding Mary (Sub Tuum) dates from the fourth century. It was common to all Christian traditions for more than one thousand years, until the Reformation. It is important to remember that Mary intercedes for us only in and through Jesus Christ.

"Now and at the hour of our death": these concluding words were added only in the nineteenth century. They are not in the bible but can be related to Mary's station at the foot of the Cross as refuge of hope.

6) Finally, the "Glory be to the Father" makes direct reference to the Trinity. It is not mentioned as such in the Bible but nobody would question Father, Son and Spirit and the praise due to them.

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