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On the History of the Living Rosary

what is the living rosary

My relationship with praying the Rosary has been off and on for the past ten years. Returning home from Marian pilgrimage sites, for a time I would earnestly pray the Rosary each day. Over time it faded and lessened into calling it quits altogether.

There have been a handful of Advent and Lenten seasons I took up the Rosary for the particular liturgical season. But I never stuck with it long-term.

It was a family vacation at Mackinac Island two years ago that I first learned of The Living Rosary.

The priest at Sunday Mass explained what it was and had signups for people to participate in praying one decade of the Rosary everyday. Each person was assigned a decade for a length of time and, together with other people praying their decade, a full Rosary will be prayed each day.

Fast forward to winter 2019.

Praying the Rosary Consistently

This past Lent (after some inspiration from Kristin at Many Hail Marys at a Time), I decided to pray the Rosary each day of Lent. Surprisingly enough, I stuck with it and only missed a few days. Fresh off a break-up, I figured extra prayer was not a bad idea and I have always found comfort in the repetition of the Rosary.

Then, in the middle of winter, my mom asked me if I would join her Living Rosary group.

Along with a close friend, they wanted to create a Living Rosary group among their daughters, sisters, friends, and coworkers. We started in May and for the next three months I prayed the fourth Joyful Mystery, the Presentation, each day. Currently, I am praying the first Joyful Mystery, the Annunciation.

The blessings of this new devotion has been a real gift to me in life right now. Each time I have been assigned a new decade, it feels like the perfect fit for where I am in life right now. I have asked the Lord how this new decade speaks to my current season. He tells me, and each time it has been such a sweet comfort. It is as if that particular decade has a lesson to teach me over a few months.

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History of the Living Rosary

The Living Rosary was first founded by Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot at Lyon, France in 1826. She was only 27 years old and was a close friend of St. John Vianney. The Living Rosary Association was approved and heartily supported by Pope Gregory XVI. In 1832 the association received official canonical status.

Pauline was inspired to create groups of 15 people who would each be responsible for praying one decade of the Rosary a day, so that the full Rosary would be prayed between all the people in the group.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, a young layman (Jan Tyranowski) began to form Living Rosary groups of 15 men representing the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. A leader of one of these groups was none other than the young Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope Saint John Paul II. The groups met in secret for prayer, spiritual direction, and community during the length of the war. Wojtyla remained faithful to the Living Rosary group. After his own priestly ordination, he brought this model into his own parishes.

A Tool for Praying the Rosary

The beauty of a Living Rosary is that it is a “perpetual Rosary.” That means the Rosary is continually being prayed among the group. Together, all participants pray the full Rosary each day. Across time zones, state, or country lines, someone in your group is invoking our Mother, asking her to watch over our cares and concerns.

I am finding this as a simple, powerful way to begin to pray the Rosary more frequently amid daily life. I can absolutely pray a decade of the Rosary every day! And more often than not, I find I can pray the whole thing.

Sometimes people feel intimidated with the thought of praying the Rosary every single day. Maybe that works for some of us, but maybe not all of us in the current season of life.

I think starting a Living Rosary group can be a great way to ease into the practice of the daily Rosary. The communal aspect of doing it with other people is a gift because you can share specific prayer requests or praise reports. There is something special about doing it with other people.

Now is a Great Time to Start a Living Rosary!

October is the month of the Holy Rosary. Why not take the plunge with Our Lady and 14 other friends to start your own group?

You might be surprised how God speaks to you through it. I know that is how I feel.

Will you take up the challenge of starting a Living Rosary this month?

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Patty Breen is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a full-time lay minister who finds joy in running, strong cups of coffee, and all things Ignatian spirituality. A Midwestern gal from the mitten state, she is constantly learning to find grace in all things. She is passionate about ministry to divorced Catholics and women whose relationships have been impacted by sexual addiction. You can find out more about her here.

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