I haven't always prayed the Rosary. Before I was Catholic, I would have been shocked to think that I would make and sell beautiful rosaries to help support my family and to encourage other Catholics grow in their faith. Back then, I attended a Catholic church with my husband, but hadn't made the leap of being confirmed into the faith. When my mother in law bought a rosary for my daughter's confirmation gift, I was strangely drawn to it and wanted one of my own. My husband bought me a beautiful custom rosary for Christmas and taught me to pray it. I loved it, but didn't fully understand it, so I turned to some books to teach me further. The following list of books is a combination of ones I have read and fully recommend, as well as a couple that I am in the middle of reading or have on my wishlist. (Please note that the links are affiliate links - thank you for your support.)
My first book I read about the Rosary was The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary by Karen Edmisten. Karen wasn't always a Catholic, so she addressed a lot of the issues I struggled with as a convert. She assured me that it was okay to pray the rosary, and that it wasn't idolatory, or vain repetition. She explained a brief history of the rosary, as well as how to pray it and what the mysteries are. I would definitely recommend this book to a new Catholic.
I then went on to the classic by St. Louis De Montfort The Secret of the Rosary. This book delves more deeply into the history of the rosary, and why we should pray it regularly. He divides the book into 50 short sections, called roses, and each rose discusses a different aspect of the rosary e.g. Explanation of the Hail Mary, Likeness to Christ, Means of Salvation, Perseverance. If you were only ever going to read one book on the rosary, this would be the one.
The Rosary: The Prayer That Saved My Life by Immaculee Ilibagiza is heartbreaking and inspirational. Immaculee is a Rwandan genocide survivor whose family was horrifically murdered. She survived with seven other women by hiding in a tiny bathroom for three months and believes that the prayers of the rosary saved her life and her soul. In this book she shares how the rosary helped her survive and to forgive her family's killers so she could go on to live a full and happy life. I also recommend her book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.
If you are looking for a comprehensive book on the Rosary, then Champions of the Rosary by Donald Calloway is for you. Part 1 of this book describes the history of the rosary by centuries, starting with the Angelic Salutation to the 12th Century, then describes each century in detail. It tells how the rosary came to be, highlights rosary victories and miracles, and more. Part 2 introduces Champions of the Rosary. There are over 26 short biographies of popes, saints, blesseds and others who have championed the rosary. Part 3 describes how and why to pray the rosary. This is an amazing book. One of the things I love the most about this book is the Appendix. It has almost 30 full colour illustrations of the rosary in art on glossy pages. Absolutely stunning!
I'm only half way through Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth by Edward Sri, but I'm really enjoying it. After explaining why we should pray the rosary, Sri addresses several troubles we may encounter with this prayer, such as dealing with a wandering mind, and are we putting too much focus on Mary. He explains the origins of the rosary and suggests ten ways we can encounter Jesus more while we are praying. I am up the chapter 8 - Seeds for Contemplation: Biblical Reflections on the Joyful Mysteries. Because of the richness in this chapter, it is taking me a while to read. A couple of pages is spent on each mystery of the rosary, which helps immerse us more fully into these mysteries when we pray them. The last chapter has a Scriptural Rosary, which I am looking forward to praying.
I have put The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila by Dan Burke and Connie Rossini on my Christmas wishlist this year. The inside flap of the book reads:
"Following the wise advice of St. Teresa of Avila and the new method proposed by St. john Paul, you'll find here for each mystery:
- A lovely, full-color classical painting depicting the events in the Mystery, for help in your contemplation
- A unique announcement of the Mystery
- A statement of the expected fruits of the Mystery
- The Scriptural passage you should consider before embarking on your prayers of the Mystery
- A call for a moment of silence in order to recollect yourself before entering the presence of God
- Each Mystery's own unique Hail Mary, including within each a John Paul II recommended statement of faith "to pull wandering minds back to Christ and center them in the mystery"
- Seven meditations tailored to each Mystery, to accompany your recitation of the Hail Marys (but only employ one at a time)
- A concluding short prayer asking God for the fruits specific to that Mystery
- Plus much more, so that finally you can begin to pray the Rosary as Saint John Paul wants you to pray it!"
I really hope I receive this one - it looks like it will enrich my prayers of the rosary immensely. Edited to add - I did receive this book for Christmas, and I love it! It has given me so many more ways to contemplate the rosary while I am praying it. One reflection that has really spoken to me was from the second Joyful mystery - The Visitation: "Mary's first Christian apostolate was doing seemingly insignificant household chores at the service of others. Much of our Christian lives consists in small, hidden acts of love."
Have you read any of these books? Are there any you would add to the list?
If you are searching for a new rosary to begin or continue your prayer journey, please have a look at my handmade rosaries in the Marian Graces shop. There are both silver and bronze rosaries, as well as pocket rosaries and chaplets. Each one is strong and made to last a lifetime of prayers.