Franciscan Rosary: what is it and how to pray it

Also known as the Rosary of the “Seven Joys of Our Lady”, the Franciscan Rosary is a pretty common practice among Catholics. Let’s learn how to pray it.

How many of us have ever heard of the Franciscan Rosary, or Franciscan Crown? It is a way to pray the Rosary, originated among the Franciscans in early XV century, and it’s still pretty common nowadays. Let’s see, then, how to pray the Franciscan Rosary and where it comes from.

The legend behind the practice

According to the Franciscan historian Father Luke Wadding (1588-1657), the Franciscan Rosary’s origin dates back to XV century. In 1422, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a Franciscan novice named James in Assisi. Since he was a child, James had been offering daily the Virgin Mary a crown of roses. When he entered the Friars Minor, however, he had to abandon this beloved custom to devote all of his time to the order’s practices. Mary appeared, then, to the novice to give him comfort, and to show him another daily offering that she would have appreciated even more. Instead of weaving a material wreath of flowers, he might recite daily a Rosary of seven decades meditating on her “seven joys”. The young novice introduced this devotion among the other Friars and, soon, it spread throughout the whole Franciscan order.

How to pray the Franciscan Rosary

The Franciscan Rosary has been called with several names throughout the centuries. Nowadays, however, this practice is mostly known as the “Franciscan 7 decades Crown”, or the “Rosary of the Seven Joys of Our Lady”. This Rosary consists, in fact, of seven decades and it’s a meditation upon the Virgin Mary’s Seven Joys.

Most of the Catholics might be familiar with the Seven Sorrows of Mary, but they tend to ignore the Seven Joys, an ancient devotion that recalls seven joyful episodes in the life of the Virgin Mary. The Franciscans are the ones who have helped to preserve this tradition over the centuries.

The Franciscan Rosary begins with the first joy. Then we pray Our Father and ten Hail Mary (Ave Maria). We repeat the same sequence other six times, one for each joy. We can add the Glory Be and a Fatima prayer at the end of each decade, but it is not strictly required.

The seven joys closely resemble the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. They are:

  • Annunciation
  • Visitation
  • Finding of Jesus in the Temple
  • Nativity of Jesus
  • Assumption of Mary

Devotion to the seven joys of Mary helps us recognize that existence is not just sorrow, but it is full of joys that deserve to be shared and celebrated.