The Holy Rosary (//; Latin: rosarium, in the sense of "crown of roses" or "garland of roses"), also known as the Dominican Rosary, or simply the Rosary, refers to a set of prayers used in the Catholic Church and to the string of knots or beads used to count the component prayers. When referring to the prayer, the word is usually capitalized ("the Rosary", as is customary for other names of prayers, such as "the Lord's Prayer", and "the Hail Mary"); when referring to the beads, it is written with a lower-case initial letter ("a rosary bead").
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The prayers that comprise the Rosary are arranged in sets of ten Hail Marys, called decades. Each decade is preceded by one Lord's Prayer ("Our Father") and traditionally followed by one Glory Be. Many Catholics also choose to recite the "O my Jesus" prayer after the Glory Be, which is the most well-known of the seven Fatima Prayers. During recitation of each set, thought is given to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall events in the lives of Jesus and of Mary. Five decades are recited per rosary. Rosary beads are an aid towards saying these prayers in the proper sequence.
Pope Pius V (in office 1566–1572) established a standard 15 Mysteries of the Rosary, based on long-standing custom. This groups the mysteries in three sets: the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries. In 2002 Pope John Paul II said that it is fitting that a new set of five be added, termed the Luminous Mysteries, bringing the total number of mysteries to 20. The Glorious mysteries are prayed on Sunday and Wednesday, the Joyful on Monday and Saturday, the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, and the Luminous on Thursday. Usually five decades are recited in a session.
Over more than four centuries, several popes have promoted the Rosary as part of the veneration of Mary in the Catholic Church, and consisting essentially in meditation on the life of Christ. The rosary also represents the Catholic emphasis on "participation in the life of Mary, whose focus was Christ", and the Mariological theme "to Christ through Mary".