LESSON IV: The Complete Rosary

OVER the centuries, many additional prayers have been added to the Rosary. These prayers are optional. Only the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Mysteries are considered obligatory for praying a true and proper Rosary.

The optional prayers have been combined in many ways. None is superior to any other, in the eyes of the Church. The diagram below shows one of the most popular combinations in use today. It also happens to be the combination which your faithful correspondent prefers to use at this time.

Diagram of the Complete Rosary with all Essential Prayers

Step 1:  Make the Sign of the Cross and kiss the feet of the Crucifix
Step 2:  State your Petition
Step 3:  Say the Apostle’s Creed
Step 4:  Say one Our Father
Step 5:  Say three Hail Mary‘s
Step 6:  Say one Glory Be
Step 7:  Say one Fatima Prayer

Step 8:  Announce the First Mystery
Step 9:  Say one Our Father
Step 10:  Say ten Hail Mary‘s
Step 11:Say one Glory Be
Step 12: Say one Fatima Prayer

Step 13: Announce the Second Mystery
Step 14: Say one Our Father
Step 15: Say ten Hail Mary‘s
Step 16: Say one Glory Be
Step 17: Say one Fatima Prayer

Step 18:Announce the Third Mystery
Step 19: Say one Our Father
Step 20: Say ten Hail Mary‘s
Step 21: Say one Glory Be
Step 22:Say one Fatima Prayer

Step 23:Announce the Fourth Mystery
Step 24: Say one Our Father
Step 25: Say ten Hail Mary‘s
Step 26: Say one Glory Be
Step 27: Say one Fatima Prayer

Step 28:Announce the Fifth Mystery
Step 29: Say one Our Father
Step 30: Say ten Hail Mary‘s
Step 31: Say one Glory Be
Step 32: Say one Fatima Prayer

Step 33: Say the Hail Holy Queen
Step 34: Say the Prayer Concluding the Rosary
Step 35: Say the Prayer to St. Michael
Step 36: Make the Sign of the Cross and kiss the feet of the Crucifix

Some Noteworthy Points

As you can see, the Complete Rosary differs in no significant way from the Simple Rosary described in Lessons II and III. The Complete Rosary differs only in the addition of seven more prayers, to make a grand total of nine. These additional seven prayers are optional. They are: the Glory Be; the Fatima Prayer; the Hail Holy Queen; the Prayer Concluding the Rosary; and the Prayer to St. Michael. Some other points are worth noting:

The Complete Decade
In Lesson I, we learned that a group of ten Hail Mary beads is called a decade. This is true, but the term “decade” also has a broader meaning.
Diagram of a Complete Decade of the Rosary
As we learned in Lesson III, each decade of the Rosary is assigned to one of the Mysteries. As we begin each decade, we announce one of the Mysteries, then meditate on that particular Mystery throughout the decade.

When praying the Simple Rosary, our meditate lasts through one Our Father and ten Hail Marys.

When praying the Complete Rosary, a few more prayers come into play. After announcing each Mystery, we continue meditating through every prayer we encounter before reaching the next “Our Father” bead. This will include one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be and one Fatima Prayer, in that order.

For this reason, when we use the term decade, we generally mean all of the prayers associated with the decade in question, not just the ten Hail Marys. The diagram above left shows a “complete” decade.

Make a Petition
When we pray the Rosary, it customary to begin by making a petition — that is, we pray the Rosary for a specific purpose or “intention”. We ask for something. Usually we state our petition after making the Sign of the Cross, but before praying the Apostle’s Creed.

Prayers Between the Beads
When we pray the Complete Rosary, we find that it has more prayers than beads. Some prayers must therefore be said between the beads, on the Rosary chain itself. To do this, we hold the chain between our thumb and forefinger, just as we would hold a bead. As you can see from the diagram above, the two prayers which fall between the beads are the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer.

Prayers on the Medallion
It is customary to pray the Hail Holy Queen and the Prayer Concluding the Rosary while holding the Centerpiece or Medallion.

Prayer to St. Michael
It is customary to end the Rosary with one’s hands pressed together, palm to palm, in the ancient gesture of supplication. Many people — including your faithful correspondent — conclude the Holy Rosary just this way, by reciting the Prayer to St. Michael with our hands forming the traditional “praying” posture, the Rosary beads wrapped around our hands, and the Crucifix dangling below them, as shown in the photos and video below.

How to Hold the Rosary, Step 1 How to Hold the Rosary, Step 2
How to Hold the Rosary, Step 3 How to Hold the Rosary, Step 4
How to Hold the Rosary, Step 5 How to Hold the Rosary, Step 6

This concludes our lesson on the Complete Rosary. Please proceed to Lesson V.