Saint Brigid Religious Education
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Devotions to Mary ~
The Rosary ~ The Scapular ~ The Miraculous Medal
The 4 Mysteries of the Rosary
The Annunciation to Mary
The Visitation of Mary
The Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ
The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple
The Agony of Christ in the Garden
The Scourging at the Pillar
The Crowning with Thorns
The Carrying of the Cross
The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord on the Cross
The Resurrection of Our Lord
The Ascension of Our Lord
The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven
The Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven and Earth
Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
Wedding feast at Cana
Announcement of the Kingdom
Institution of the Eucharist
History of the Rosary
The Rosary is a very popular devotion among Roman Catholics and enjoys a very rich and interesting history.
The Rosary comes from Latin rosarium, meaning "rose garden" or "garland of
roses" is a popular and traditional Roman Catholic devotion. The term denotes
both a set of prayer beads and the devotional prayer itself, which combines
vocal (or silent) prayer and meditation. The prayers consist of repeated
sequences of the Lord's Prayer followed by ten prayings of the Hail Mary and a
single praying of "Glory Be to the Father". Each of these sequences is
known as a decade. The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on
one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which are events in the lives of Jesus
Christ and his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Ireland 800-900 AD
Historians trace the origin of the Rosary back to ninth century Ireland. Today,
as then, the 150 Psalms of the Bible and The Book of Psalms of King David, were an
important form of monastic prayer. Monks and clergy recited or chanted the
Psalms as a major source of hourly worship. People living near the monasteries
realized the beauty of this devotion. But unable to read or memorize the lengthy
Psalms, the people were unable to adapt this form of prayer for their use.
An Irish monk suggested to the people around the monastery that they might pray
a series of 150 Our Fathers in place of the 150 Psalms. At first, pebbles were
carried in a pouch to count the 150 Our Fathers; later ropes with 150 or 50 (1/3
of 150) knots were used. Eventually string with 50 pieces of wood was used.
Next the Angelic Salutation (Lk 1:28) was added. St. Peter Damian (d. 1072) was
the first to mention this form of prayer. Soon the Angelic Salutation replaced
the 50 Our Fathers.
Some medieval theologians considered the 150 Psalms to be veiled mysteries about
the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They began to compose "Psalters of
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" - 150 praises in honor of Jesus. Soon psalters
devoted to 150 praises of Mary were composed. When a psalter of 150 praises in
Mary's honor numbered 50 instead of 150, it was called a rosarium, or bouquet.
The salutations were grouped into decades and an Our Father was put before each decade. This combined the Our Father and the Angelic Salutation for the first
Special thoughts - meditations - were attached for each Hail Mary bead.
The Dominican Order spread the form of the "new rosary" throughout Western
1400 - 1500 AD
The thoughts or meditations on the 150 Hail Mary beads took the form of woodcuts
(graphic pictures). This exhausted the practice easily because of the volume of
pictures. Picture rosaries were shortened to one picture/thought for each Our
Father as it is today.
St. Louis de Montfort wrote the most common set of meditations for the rosary
A movement was begun attempting to return to a form of the medieval rosary - one
thought for each Hail Mary.
The present devotion, differing from the medieval version, is composed almost
entirely of direct quotations from the Bible. It is appropriately called "the
What is a Scapular?
Originally, a scapular was a cloak or poncho-like garment, usually open
at the sides, worn by some monks. A devotional scapular is a
modification of this garment, though it is still meant to be thought of
Clothing gives protection and shows our station in life. The scapular is
also an indication of our spiritual state and a sign of love for Mary.
Because Mary's intercession protects us, the scapular is also a sign of
protection against the hazards of the world.
The scapular has been reduced from a cloak to two small squares of woven
wool, connected by two cords or strings. The squares may have pictures
on them. The scapular is worn like a miniature poncho, so that one
square is in front and one in back.
There are many different variations of the scapular: white
(Trinitarian), black (the Servite Order), blue (of the Immaculate
Conception), red (of the Passion of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and
Mary), and green (of Saint Vincent de Paul's Daughters of Charity); but
the brown scapular of Mount Carmel is the best known and most commonly
The History of the Brown Scapular
The brown scapular has an interesting and inspiring history.
"Whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire." The
Mother of God made this incredible promise to a Carmelite monk, Saint
Simon Stock, in England more than seven hundred years ago. Most older
Catholics today have learned the story of Saint Simon and the scapular
during their preparation for the sacraments, and many were enrolled in
the Confraternity of the Scapular of Carmel at the time of their First
As with many other devotions, the devotion of wearing the brown scapular
is not commonly practiced among young Catholics. But they embrace this
devotion enthusiastically for its immediate and obvious "material"
evidence of faith.
One is enrolled in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular by a priest
or other authorized person. When one's scapular wears out, one can
People who are allergic to wool, live in hot climates, or find the
scapular difficult to wear for some other reason can replace it with a
scapular medal, which has an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on one
side and an image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the other.
Should you decide to practice this devotion as a family, be sure that
the children understand that the scapular is not a magical charm to
protect you, an automatic guarantee of salvation, or an excuse for not
living a Christian life. They need to understand this clearly, not only
for their own benefit, but because they will probably be asked or
challenged about wearing the scapular by their peers. A scapular can be
an excellent opportunity to evangelize!
You could explain that a scapular is like a commemorative T-shirt that
you wear to remind yourself of a special occasion, a piece of jewelry
like: a locket or a charm bracelet that you wear to remind yourself of a
loved one, or a special picture that you carry in your wallet to remind
yourself of the important people in your life. The scapular reminds us
to live as Christians by following the Gospels, receiving the
sacraments, and remembering our special devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
The Miraculous Medal
What is The Miraculous Medal?
The Medal of the Immaculate Conception, popularly known as the
Miraculous Medal, was designed by the Blessed Virgin herself! No
wonder, then that it wins such extraordinary graces for those who wear
it and pray for Mary's intercession and help.
There is no superstition, nothing of magic, connected with the
Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal is not a “good-luck charm”.
Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of trusting
prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness,
repentance, and faith. God uses a Medal, not as a sacrament, but as an
agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results.
“The weak things of this earth hath God chosen to confound the strong.”
The story of the Miraculous Medal
The First Apparition
The story begins on the night of July 19, 1830. A child (perhaps her
guardian angel) awakened Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré, a novice
in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, and summoned her
to the chapel. There she met with the Virgin Mary and spoke with her for
several hours. During the conversation Mary said to her, “My child, I am
going to give you a mission.”
The Second Apparition
Mary gave her this mission in a vision during evening meditation on
November 27, 1830. She saw Mary standing on what seemed to be half a
globe and holding a golden globe in her hands as if offering it to
heaven. On the globe was the word “France,” and our Lady explained that
the globe represented the whole world, but especially France. The times
were difficult in France then, especially for the poor who were
unemployed and often refugees from the many wars of the time. France was
first to experience many of those troubles which ultimately reached many
other parts of the world and are even present today. Streaming from
rings on Mary's fingers as she held the globe were many rays of light.
Mary explained that the rays symbolize the graces she obtains for those
who ask for them. However, some of the gems on the rings were dark, and
Mary explained that the rays and graces were available but did not come
because no one had asked for them.
The vision then changed to show our Lady standing on a globe with her
arms now outstretched and with the dazzling rays of light still
streaming from her fingers. Framing the figure was an inscription: O
Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
The vision turned and showed the design of the reverse side of the
medal. Twelve stars encircled a large "M" from which arose a cross.
Below are two hearts with flames arising from them. One heart is
encircled in thorns and the other is pierced by a sword.
Then Mary spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model.
Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it
around the neck.” Catherine explained the entire series of apparitions
her confessor, and she worked through him to carry out Mary’s
instructions. She did not reveal that she received the Medal until soon
before her death 47 years later.
With approval of the Church, the first Medals were made in 1832 and were
distributed in Paris. Almost immediately the blessings that Mary had
promised began to shower down on those who wore her Medal. The devotion
spread like wildfire. Marvels of grace and health, peace and prosperity,
following in its wake. Before long people were calling it the
“Miraculous” Medal. And in 1836, a Canonical inquiry undertaken at Paris
declared the apparitions to be genuine.
When our Blessed Mother gave the design of the medal to Saint Catherine
Labouré she said, “Now it must be given to the whole world and to every
The Meaning of the Front Side of the Miraculous Medal
is standing upon a globe, crushing the head of a serpent beneath her
foot. She stands upon the globe, as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her
feet crush the serpent to proclaim Satan and all his followers are
helpless before her. The year of 1830 on the Miraculous Medal
is the year the Blessed Mother gave the design of the Miraculous Medal
to Saint Catherine Labouré. The reference to Mary conceived without sin
supports the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.not to be
confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, and referring to Mary's sinlessness, “full of grace” and “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28), that
was proclaimed 24 years later in 1854.
The Meaning of the Back Side of the Miraculous Medal
The twelve stars can refer to the Apostles, who represent the entire
Church as it surrounds Mary. They also recall the vision of Saint John,
writer of the Book of Revelation (12:1), in which “a great sign appeared
in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” The cross can symbolize Christ and
our redemption, with the bar under the cross a sign of the earth. The
“M” stands for Mary, and the interleaving of her initial and the cross
shows Mary’s close involvement with Jesus and our world. In this we see
Mary’s part in our salvation and her role as mother of the Church. The
two hearts represent the love of Jesus and Mary for us.