May 15, 2003

The Rosary of Our Lady

Online Edition – Vol. IX, No. 3: May 2003

The Rosary of Our Lady

by Father Romano Guardini

Romano Guardini (1885-1968), was an Italian-born German priest, acclaimed theologian and professor of philosophy and religion, whose lectures and writings were enormously influential throughout the mid-twentieth century.

In observance of May, the month named for Mary, the mother of Jesus, we present brief excerpts from The Rosary of Our Lady, Father Guardini’s meditations on the Rosary originally published in German in 1955, from the edition published in 1994 by Sophia Institute Press of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Adoremus is pleased to offer a complimentary copy of the paperback edition of the book on request to all donors of $35 or more.


On every bead we say a prayer consisting of words that come from Holy Scripture or from Christian tradition. The word is something very rich, alive, even mysterious: a formation of sounds and consonances by which the speaker gives the listener a glimpse into the inner realm of thought….

[The] world of speech … contains sentences filled with meaning: proverbs, for example, thoughts of wise and noble men, songs, or poems. They can confront the individual at any time and exercise their power.

This is true of all words of wisdom, love, and beauty that are retained by man’s memory….

The Rosary consists of holy words. The Hail Mary takes precedence over all of them. Its first part is derived from the New Testament. The prayer begins with the message of the angel to Mary in Nazareth: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee” [Luke 1:28]. This greeting is then followed by the words with which Elizabeth greeted Mary when the latter had crossed the mountains to visit her: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” [Luke 1:42].

The second part is an ancient appeal for Mary’s intercession. The Lord Himself gave us the Our Father as the perfect model and substance of all Christian prayer. The Creed constitutes the first expression of Christian conviction. The “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit” is the glorification of the triune God in its simplest form. Finally, with the Sign of the Cross with which the Rosary begins and ends, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, Christians from the time of remote antiquity have placed themselves under the name of God and the sign of redemption.

The words of these prayers are recurrent. They create that open, moving world, transfused by energy and regulated by reason, in which the act of prayer takes place…. When these words are taken from Holy Scripture, they become an arch in the sacred room of Revelation, in which the truth of the living God is made known to us.

The Third Glorious Mystery
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
“…Who hath sent us the Holy Spirit”

The night before His Passion, the Lord had said to His disciples, “I will not leave you orphans” [John 14:18]. When He had gone, they really became orphans, for God was now no longer present with them in the manner in which He had been present through Christ. But on the day of Pentecost, God returned in the Holy Spirit, who was sent by Him. Now the disciples’ orphanhood was ended; the friend, the “Advocate” [John 14:16], the heavenly guide, was with them. But His task was to teach them the whole truth, and to give them Christ.

Mary was also among those upon whom the Holy Spirit descended. The Gospel specifically says this, and we may perhaps surmise a little of what the gift, accompanied by the roar of the divine wind and the flames, must have meant to her. As often as the Gospel speaks of her, we may sense some slight remoteness between the human mother and the mystery of her divine Son. The sentence “And they did not understand the word that He spoke to them” [Luke 2:50], may serve as an illustration. And now, with the coming of the Holy Spirit, all is perfectly clear. No perplexities could remain, and every event had its meaning.

The Holy Spirit is also sent to us. Through His coming we are no longer orphans. He is with us, if only we ourselves will stay with Him. He leads our lives through all that is concealed, but we must leave our hand in His. If we beseech Him and open ourselves up to Him with heart and soul, He shows us how to know Christ, and in Christ ourselves. But where darkness prevails because our earthly life is shut off from Christ, He gives us a divine “nevertheless” — as Paul says, a “testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God” and the certainty that “for those who love God, all things work together unto good” [Romans 8:16, 28].

[See Rosary page on the Women for Faith and Family website]

[See Marian Page for other Marian prayers and activities also on the Website for Faith and Family Website]


Monsignor Romano Guardini

Romano Guardini (1885-1968) was ordained priest in 1910. He served in Mainz and dedicated much of his life to working with the young. He received his doctorate in theology in 1915, writing on the theology of St. Bonaventure, and taught for most of his career at the University of Berlin as Professor of Catholic Philosophy. His noteworthy books include Sacred Signs (1917), The Spirit of the Liturgy (1918), Liturgical Formation (1923), The Lord (1937), and The End of the Modern World (1956).