The mysteries of the Rosary are based on significant incidents and moments in the life of Our Lord and His Mother that are celebrated in the Liturgy. There is a parallel between the main feasts honouring our Lord and his Mother in the liturgical year and the twenty mysteries of the Rosary. Because of this parallel, someone who recites the twenty mysteries of the Rosary in one day reflects on the whole liturgical cycle commemorated by the Church during the course of one year. Some of the Popes have therefore referred to the Rosary as a compendium of the Gospel.
1) The Annunciation
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary" (Lk 1:26-27).
"The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates the 'fullness of time' (Gal 4:4), the time of the fulfilment of God's promises and preparations" (CCC, 484).
2) The Visitation
"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"' (Lk 1:39-42).
"Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people" (CCC, 717).
3) The Birth of Our Lord
"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Lk 2:1-7).
"Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven's glory was made manifest" (CCC, 525).
4) The Presentation in the Temple
"And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord') and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, 'a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons"' (Lk 2:21-24).
"Jesus' circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham's descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law" (CCC, 527).
5) The finding of Jesus in the temple
"Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it ...
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers" (Lk 2:41-47).
"The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: 'Did you not know that I must be about my Father`s work?' (Lk 2:49)" (CCC, 534).
Mysteries of Light
1) The Baptism in the Jordan
"And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased"' (Mt 3:16-17).
"Jesus' public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan. John preaches 'a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins' (Lk 3:3)" (CCC, 535).
2) The wedding feast of Cana
"On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' And Jesus said to her, 'O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you"' (Jn 2:1-5).
"On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign at his mother's request - during a wedding feast: The Church attaches great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence" (CCC, 1613).
3) The proclamation of the kingdom of God
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15).
"Everyone is called to enter the Kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations" (CCC, 543).
4) The Transfiguration
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light" (Mt 17:1-2).
"For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter's confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to 'enter into his glory' (Lk 24:26)" (CCC, 555).
5) The institution of the Eucharist
"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body"' (Mt 26:26).
"By celebrating the Last Supper with his Apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over to his Father by his Death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfils the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the Kingdom" (CCC, 1340).
1) The agony in the Garden
"Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, 'Sit here, while I go yonder and pray.' And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.' And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will"' (Mt 26:36-39).
"Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the Tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony" (CCC, 2849).
2) The scourging at the pillar
"Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' and struck him with their hands" (Jn 19:1-3).
"Jesus' sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was 'rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes' (Mk 8:31 ), who 'handed him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified' (Mt 20:19)" (CCC, 572).
3) The crowning with thorns
"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!"' (Mt 27:27-29).
"It is love 'to the end' (Jn 13:1 ) that confers on Christ's sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life" (CCC, 616).
4) The carrying of the cross
"And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull)" (Mk 15:21-22).
"By accepting in his human will that the Father's will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for 'he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree' (1 Pt 2:24)" (CCC, 612).
5) The crucifixion
"And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' ...
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!' And having said this he breathed his last" (Lk 23:33-46).
"'Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures' (1 Cor 15:3)" (CCC, 619).
1) The Resurrection
"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen"' (Lk 24:1-5).
"'If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain' (1 Cor 15:14). The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ's works and teachings" (CCC, 651).
2) The Ascension
"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mk 16:19).
"This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who 'came from the Father' can return to the Father: Christ Jesus" (CCC, 661).
3) The descent of the Holy Spirit
"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4).
"'Holy Spirit' is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children" (CCC, 691).
4) The Assumption
"Henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me" (Lk 1:48-49).
"The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body" (CCC, 974).
5) The crowning of Our Lady Queen of Heaven
"And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev 12:1 ).
"Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death" (CCC, 966).