Devotions / Rosary / Western Spirituality

An early Rosary variant from Trier

Screen Shot 2019-10-18 at 1.11.59 PM

Rosary from a 1520 Dutch altarpiece

The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary is perhaps the most important, well-known and beloved popular devotion in the Western Church. In its developed structure as we know it today, it comes to us definitively from its codification by the great Dominican pope St. Pius V.

Pope Pius “made official” the three sets of mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious) in their current form. He also formally added the second half of the Angelic Salutation as commonly used today: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

This structure would stay essentially unchanged until pope St. John Paul II recommended the addition of the Mysteries of Light in his 2000 apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

Prior to its standardization, however, there were many variants and sets of “mysteries” in use with the (shorter) Ave, and without any division into “decades” or the addition of other prayers like the now-standard introductory Creed, Pater and three Aves; the doxology (Glory Be); the 20th-century addition of the Fatima prayer, etc.

I recently came across one particular fifty-Ave variant I found on a Hungarian website dedicated to various historical and contemporary forms of the rosary and other Western popular devotions. This particular version is ascribed to Dominic of Prussia, a Polish-born Carthusian monk from the early 15th century, and one of the pioneers of creating “Life of Jesus” rosaries (like the one we use today) that, in addition to repeating the Angelic Salutation a set number of times (50 or 150) would also focus specifically on meditating on mysteries from the life of our Lord. He was said to have composed this set of mysteries during his novitiate in Trier.

This variant consists simply of the Sign of the Cross, followed by 50 Aves (in their older form without “Holy Mary…”), followed by the “mysteries,” or “clausula” (called such in Latin because they closed the Hail Mary before the “Holy Mary…” was added to it later), and another closing Sign of the Cross. There are no intervening doxologies, Our Fathers or any other prayers. I have decided to translate and share it here because it struck me by its simplicity and comprehensiveness, and the pithy, powerful way in which it hits on all the key themes of the Gospels and the life of Jesus (including, as you will see below, his public ministry as recommended for meditation by St. John Paul II in his Mysteries of Light).

Without further ado, here is this particular Carthusian rosary with its 50 mysteries, in my own translation from Hungarian for the purpose of this post (original here). Feel free to copy and use or adapt it for your own spiritual benefit, whether as-is or by incorporating some of it into the modern form of the Rosary. Note: I opted for modern grammar (second-person plural) instead of thees and thous, but it can be easily adapted as desired. Note also: in this particular source, the Ave is given as terminating in “Jesus Christ,” not simply “Jesus” as we use it today.

Opening Sign of the Cross
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hail Mary x50, each followed by the appropriate sentence below:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus Christ…

  1. Whom you, Holy Virgin, conceived of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
  2. With whom you hurried across the mountains to Elisabeth. Amen.
  3. To whom you, pure handmaiden, gave birth with great joy. Amen.
  4. Whom you wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. Amen.
  5. Whom the holy angels glorified with heavenly song. Amen.
  6. Whom the shepherds sought and found in Bethlehem. Amen.
  7. Who was circumcised on the eighth day and received the name of Jesus. Amen.
  8. To whom the three kings sacrificed gold, frankincense and myrrh. Amen.
  9. Whom you offered in the Temple to God, your heavenly Father. Amen.
  10. With whom you escaped into Egypt and returned seven years later. Amen.
  11. Whom you lost in Jerusalem and found three days later. Amen.
  12. Who grew day by day in stature, wisdom and grace. Amen.
  13. Whom Saint John baptized in the Jordan in the same way as he did sinners. Amen.
  14. Whom Satan tempted but could not overcome. Amen.
  15. Who with his disciples preached the Kingdom of God to the people. Amen.
  16. Who healed many sick with divine power. Amen.
  17. Whose foot Mary Magdalen washed with her tears and dried with her hair. Amen.
  18. Who raised Lazarus and others from the dead. Amen.
  19. Who was transfigured on Mount Tabor. Amen.
  20. Who was received with great respect on Palm Sunday into Jerusalem. Amen.
  21. Who gave his own holy Body to his disciples at the Last Supper. Amen.
  22. Who prayed and sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Amen.
  23. Who allowed men to capture him, bind him, and drag him from one judge to another. Amen.
  24. Who was accused by many false witnesses. Amen.
  25. Whose holy face they spat upon, whose eyes they blindfolded, and whom they struck on the cheek. Amen.
  26. Whom they disgracefully tied to a column and mercilessly scourged. Amen.
  27. Whom they crowned with thorns. Amen.
  28. In front of whom they knelt and mockingly adored. Amen.
  29. Who was innocently sentenced to a shameful death. Amen.
  30. Who carried the cross on his holy shoulders. Amen.
  31. Who addressed you, his Mother, along with other women. Amen.
  32. Whose hands and feet they nailed to the cross. Amen.
  33. Who prayed for those who crucified, tortured, and killed him. Amen.
  34. Who said to the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise!” Amen.
  35. Who dedicated you, his sorrowful Mother, to his beloved disciple John. Amen.
  36. Who cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Amen.
  37. Who was given vinegar and gall when he cried out, “I thirst!” Amen.
  38. Who prayed, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!” Amen.
  39. Who finally said, “It is finished!” Amen.
  40. Who died a grievous and agonizing death for us, sinners. Amen.
  41. Whose side they opened, from where blood and water poured forth. Amen.
  42. Whom they took down from the cross, placed in your lap, and buried. Amen.
  43. Whom good men embalmed and buried. Amen.
  44. Whose holy soul descended into hell and freed the souls of the fathers. Amen.
  45. Who rose from the dead on the third day. Amen.
  46. Who filled with great joy you and all others to whom he appeared. Amen.
  47. Who went up into Heaven in your sight, and now sits at the right hand of the Father. Amen.
  48. Who will one day pronounce judgment over the living and the dead. Amen.
  49. Who sent the Holy Spirit to all those who believe in him.
  50. Who took you, his beloved Mother, to himself in Heaven, and who lives and reigns with the heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Closing Sign of the Cross
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

One thought on “An early Rosary variant from Trier

  1. Pingback: SATVRDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s