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Rosary Prayed Before Mass

Rosary Prayed Before Mass

Q: In both churches I attend (Ukrainian and Roman rites) May is dedicated to Mary. In the Roman Church I attend on weekdays we say the Rosary before Mass just as we do in October (in my Ukrainian rite we say the rosary before Mass throughout the year). Is this universal in the Church? When, where and how (or why) did this originate?

A: The reciting of the rosary before (or sometimes after) Mass, a fairly widespread custom in Catholic countries, is the consequence of several developments.

1) It replaces the saying of the rosary during Mass, widely practiced at a time when Mass was said in Latin but now proscribed (MC 48).

2) It also replaces from Mass the independent rosary said in some parishes in the evening or/and after the evening meal in the families.

3) It also tends to take the place of a specific and independent May celebration usually celebrated in the evening when there were no evening Masses.

The collusion of rosary and Mass became popular after the battle of Lepanto (Pius V) but was encouraged especially under Leo XIII (end nineteenth century) first as an object to be held in one's hand, then as a prayer instead of Latin. It then became an independent exercise (church or/and family) said in the evening, disappeared after Vatican II in families and church and reappeared in the late 70's in combination with the Mass. Not to multiply additional exercises, and because Masses during the week and Saturdays were scheduled in the evening, the rosary is said in conjunction with Mass.

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