Saint Brigid Religious Education
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Devotions to Mary ~ The Rosary ~ The Scapular ~ The Miraculous Medal


What We know About The Life of  Our Lady

Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary

How to pray the Rosary

The 4 Mysteries of the Rosary

Joyful Mysteries:

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



Sorrowful Mysteries:

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



Glorious Mysteries:

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



Luminous Mysteries:

The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
The Wedding feast at Cana
The Announcement of the Kingdom
The Transfiguration
The Institution of the Eucharist




The 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.

First stage
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.

Second stage
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.

Third stage
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.

1365 AD
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 time.

1409 AD
Special thoughts - meditations - were attached for each Hail Mary bead.

1470 AD
The Dominican Order spread the form of the "new rosary" throughout Western Christendom.

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 used today.

Early 1900's
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 Scriptural Rosary

The Scapular

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 as clothing.

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 worn.

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 Holy Communion.

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 replace it.  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 Third Apparition

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 to 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 person.”


The Meaning of the Front Side of the Miraculous Medal

Mary 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. 


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