The prayers that compose 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 only one Glory Be, although some individuals also add the so-called Fatima Prayer (“O my Jesus”). 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:
- The sign of the cross on the Crucifix;
- The prayer “O Lord, open my lips; O God, come to my aid; O Lord, make haste to help me”, still on the Crucifix;
- The Apostles’ Creed, still on the Crucifix;
- The Lord’s Prayer at the first large bead (for the needs of the Church and for the intentions of the pope);
- The Hail Mary on each of the next three beads;
- The Glory Be on the next large bead.
The praying of the decades then follows, repeating this cycle for each mystery:
- Announce the mystery;
- The Lord’s Prayer on the large bead;
- The Hail Mary on each of the ten adjacent small beads;
- The Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer on the space before the next large bead; and
- The Salve Regina;
- The Loreto Litany;
- Any further intentions; and
- The sign of the cross.