Confraternity of the Rosary

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The Confraternity of the Holy Rosary is a Roman Catholic Archconfraternity or spiritual association, under the care and guidance of the Dominicans, the members of which strive to pray the entire Holy Rosary weekly.[1]


Dominican Order Coat of Arms

The history of the rosary confraternity stretches back over 500 years, and its origins are shrouded in obscurity. It may be that no Rosary Confraternity existed before the last quarter of the fifteenth century, which saw such associations erected through the preaching of the Rosary by Bl. Alan de Rupe aka Alan de la Roche (†1475). One of the first was erected at Cologne in 1474 by Fr. James Sprenger.[2] It is known that there were Dominican guilds or fraternities, but they may not have been connected with the Rosary,[3] itself being ancient, and the origins of which shrouded in the mists of time. Traditionally it is believed that both the rosary and the confraternity which bears it were founded by St. Dominic, an opinion voiced up until Pope Leo XIII (The Rosary Pope) who wrote a series of 12 Encyclicals and 5 Apostolic Letters on the Holy Rosary: "Its origin is distinguished by its antiquity, for St.Dominic himself is said to have been its founder."[4]


This archconfraternity is under the administration of the Dominican order, as is the Confraternity of the Holy Name. Thus no new confraternity may be erected without the sanction of the Dominican Master General. Throughout the world, the Archconfraternity is administered by the different Provinces of the Dominican order. In the United States, the Eastern Dominican Province (Province of St. Joseph) has its Confraternity based in Columbus, Ohio.[5] The Rosary Confraternity of the Western Dominican Province (Province of the Holy Name) is based in Portland, Oregon at their Rosary Center.[6] It is probably the largest organization of its kind within the Catholic Church.[7][8]

Benefits and obligations[edit]

The benefits of membership to this organisation are largely spiritual (in the form of indulgences, the fifteen Promises of Our Lady on the benefits of the Rosary, and a share of the merits and prayers of the saints and the Dominican order [9]) and social (in the form of group prayer and a newsletter.[10]


Rosarians (members of the confraternity) are privy to several indulgences:

  1. For members of the Rosary Confraternity, a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, is granted:
    1. on the day of enrollment. (When application is made, a certificate of membership is sent, indicating the day of the enrollment.)
    2. on the following feast days: Christmas, Easter, Annunciation, Purification, Assumption, Our Lady of the Rosary, and Immaculate Conception.
  2. For those who pray the Rosary, a plenary indulgence is granted under the usual conditions, when the Rosary is prayed in Church, or in a Public Oratory, in a family (family Rosary), Religious Community, or Pious Association. Otherwise a partial indulgence is granted.[11]


Rosarians are obliged to strive towards reciting the Rosary weekly (although this is not under the pain of sin) and to be inscribed on the general register of the confraternity.[12] Members are also required to include fellow members in their prayers.[13] This obligation is often carried out by saying the Confraternity Prayer.

Pope John Paul II, in his 2002 Apostolic Letter,[14] added five optional mysteries to the rosary, which he gave the name, "Luminous Mysteries." Since the new group of mysteries are in fact optional, they are, properly speaking, not an integral part of the Rosary of St. Dominic. The Rosary Confraternity does not require its members to recite the new Luminous Mysteries, and Rosarians who continue to recite the 15 mystery Dominican Rosary as received from the ecclesiastical tradition do fulfill their confraternity obligations. The 15 mystery rosary consists of the Joyful, Sorrowful & Glorious Mysteries.[15]

Activities of the confraternity[edit]

The "Perpetual Rosary" is an organization for securing the continuous recitation of the Rosary by day and night among a number of associates who perform their allotted share at stated times. This is a development of the Rosary Confraternity, and dates from the seventeenth century. It is continues in various convents which exist for the purpose as well as in lay society [16]

The "Living Rosary" or "Association of the Living Rosary" was begun in 1826 by Pauline Marie Jaricot. While it is independent of the confraternity it is also under the administration of the Dominican Order and its goals coincide. It consists in a number of circles of fifteen members who each agree to recite a single decade every day and who thus complete the whole Rosary between them. In the year 1877, the pope Pius IX subjected all Associations of the Living Rosary to the general of the Dominican Order. However recently the care of the Association has given to the local Bishops.[17]

Because of the close relation of the Rosary to the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Our Lady of Fatima, Rosary confraternities are often closely tied to the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular and the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima whose goals are linked.

See also[edit]

Links and resources[edit]


  1. ^ The Rosary Confraternity Homepage
  2. ^ People from all parts of the world desired to be enrolled in it. A casual English example occurs in the Plumpton Correspondence (ed. Thomas Stapleton, Camden Society, p. 50), where a priest in London writes in 1486 to his patron in Yorkshire: "I send a paper of the Rosary of our Ladye of Coleyn and I have registered your name with both my Ladis names, as the paper expresses, and ye be acopled as brether and sisters." Even at that time the entry of the name of each associate on the register was an indispensable condition of membership, and so it remains to this day.
  3. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia on the Confraternity of the Rosary
  4. ^ A Quote attributed to Pope Leo XIII taken from: "The Confraternity of the Holy Rosary" found here at EWTN
  5. ^ The Confraternity of the Holy Rosary
  6. ^ The Rosary Confraternity Homepage
  7. ^ In the "patent of erection", which is issued for each new confraternity by the General of the Dominicans, a clause is added granting to all members enrolled therein "a participation in all the good works which by the grace of God are performed throughout the world by the brethren and sisters of the said [Dominican] Order."
  8. ^ Pope Leo XIII. (2 October 1898). Ubi Primum. An important Apostolic Constitution on the Rosary Confraternity, a sort of new charter. Cited in The Popes on the Rosary
  9. ^ The Rosary Confraternity's Benefits
  10. ^ The Rosary Light and Life Newsletter, Official News Letter of the Rosary Confraternity
  11. ^ Indulgences granted to members of the Confraternity
  12. ^ Obligations of members of the Rosary Confraternity
  13. ^ The Rosary Confraternity (1993)
  14. ^ The Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae
  15. ^ Obligations of members of the Rosary Confraternity
  16. ^ Dominican Life: Sisters of the perpetual Rosary
  17. ^ The Living Rosary

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.