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How many beads are in a Catholic rosary?

Catholic rosary’s beads are used to mark the repetitions of prayers, chants or devotions, such as in the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The beads: origins and etymology

Over the decades various cultures have made beads from a variety of materials and for different purposes.
The English word bead derives from the Old English noun bede which means “a prayer“: the oldest paint of a string of beads in a religious context was found on a fresco in a prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri, Santorini (Greece).
In spite of this, the exact origins of prayer beads remain uncertain.

Catholic rosary’s origins

The earliest practice of counting prayers in Western culture can be traced to the 11th and 12th centuries: people carried small stones in their pockets with which to count prayers.

In the Catholic tradition, beads are assembled into groups of ten, five, etc. forming the rosaries: the term rosary refers to both the string of beads and the prayer said using the string of beads.
A rosary is structured as it follows: a crucifix, one larger bead, three small beads, another larger bead and then a medal. After the medal comes a larger bead again, followed by a group of 10 smaller beads (decade) multiplied for five.

Praying the Catholic rosary

To pray the rosary means to recite specific prayers corresponding with particular beads on the string.

The basic praying of the rosary consists of the Apostle’s Creed prayed while holding the crucifix in one’s hand followed by an Our Father while holding the single, larger bead, then a prayer of the Hail Mary for each smaller bead in the set of 10.

The rosary is often used as a guide for other Catholic prayers. These prayers are related to challenges or celebrations in the life of one praying the rosary or on behalf of another for whom the prayers are said.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

The different types of Catholic rosary

The term rosary is used for various types of beads’ sets: there are some rosaries that use the standard prayers; others that serve a specific purpose – like the wedding rosary. Let’s see which are the different types of Catholic rosary.

Five decades rosary

The five decade rosary is the most famous type of rosary: it’s made of a crucifix, then a short set of 5 beads (Our Father prayer), 3 Hail Marys and a Glory Be followed by 5 decades to recite the Hail Marys. This type of rosary is also known as the Dominican Rosary, due to St. Dominic’s role in encouraging and spreading devotion to the holy rosary.

Franciscan rosary

The Franciscan Rosary can refer to two different rosaries associated with the Franciscan order. One is the Franciscan Crown, also called “seven decade rosary”, consisting of 7 decades plus two additional Hail Mary beads.
Franciscan rosary is also a term that may be used to describe a standard five decade rosary with a Franciscan Tau cross in place of the crucifix many are accustomed to seeing.


The word chaplet is associated with specific sets of prayers, intended to ask the help of Mary, Jesus, or the saints. The standard five decade rosary is a chaplet, but chaplets can vary in size, in pattern or grouping of beads, and in the prayers said on each bead. One of the most common chaplets in recent years is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy: it can be said especially for the dead or dying, but is also often said as part of the Divine Mercy novena which lasts from Good Friday to Divine Mercy Sunday.

Wedding Rosary

The wedding rosary is an over-sized rosary formed of two rosaries joined together at the center. The wedding rosary is part of a wedding ceremony, especially in Hispanic culture, where the loops of the rosary are put over the head of the bride and groom by the priest. This is symbolic of the joining of the two in God; their prayer lives will now be joined as well.

One decade rosary

The one decade rosary is a rosary consisting of only one decade. They are sometimes called pocket rosaries or tenners. The idea behind the one decade rosary is that it is easy to carry around and use for prayer.

Rosary bracelet

This is a one decade rosary meant to be worn on the wrist. The rosary bracelet has one decade plus one Our Father bead. In the center there will often be a miraculous medal and small, charm sized crucifix or cross hung together. The bracelet is not intended to be a fashion statement but rather a way to easily bring a rosary with you, to be used for prayer.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]On our shop online we have a various selection of the most used catholic rosaries made of various materials. Visit the page dedicated to religious medals our shop online!