Rosary and Eucharistic Exposition

It is sometimes asked whether it is appropriate to say the rosary, even privately, in front of the Exposed Blessed Sacrament, given that the rosary is a Marian prayer. In forbidding the practice some pastors have cited a response made by the Congregation of Worship in its journal Notitiae (vol. 4, 1968) suggesting the rosary was insufficiently Christological, notwithstanding the explicit connnection of the rosary and the mystery of the Eucharist made by Pope Paul VI in Marialis Cultus #48 and the continuation of the practice in the Roman basilicas, at Marian shrines and elsewhere.

After numerous inqueries from bishops the Congregation has seen fit to clarify the confusion. In Notitiae vol. 34 (1998), issue 7-8, pages 384-385, the following was published. It is provided in unofficial translation from the Spanish original, written to a bishop, but published by the Congregation.


Some bishops have requested an opinion with regard to the prayer of the Rosary during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. This Dicastery has considered it appropriate to publish this reply which, given the peculiar moment, it is right to make it also available for the public domain.


Protocol 2287/96/L
Rome, 15 January 1997

Your Reverend Excellency,

This Congregation has received your letter in which you formulate three questions regarding the recitation of the Rosary of the Virgin Mary in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed for public veneration.

In replying to each of your three questions it is necessary to bear in mind the principles of the Conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and the post-conciliar documentation which speaks of the finality and spirit of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and of the Rosary.

The replies are to be the object of reflection on the part of the groups which meet together to pray, in as much as that the context changes sensibly whether it is a group of seminarians, of women religious, of youth or of parish faithful.

In the added Note you will see the necessary references to the documentation with some reflections which can be useful to better comprehend the replies which are given in brief form:

1) When reciting the Rosary with a Christological orientation [sentido] which is proper to it, reciting it in an meditative-adoring climate, and when its recitation helps to acquire a greater understanding of the Eucharistic mystery, it would be unacceptable to prohibit it. In the Catholic Faith the mystery of the Incarnation renders the love towards Christ inseparable from that which we have for His Most Holy Mother.

2) The catechesis which must be given to the faithful has to be united to the practice, because it is not a question of eliminating a custom but of giving it its profound meaning. Therefore, it is good to introduce gradually and with pastoral sensitivity that which may be useful for the faithful to reach a greater awareness both of the meaning of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and of the Rosary.

3) That which helps to renew the liturgical life and the full meaning of pious exercises must be promoted, amongst which the Holy Rosary deserves special attention. It is necessary that priests act in this area with great gentleness, attentively respecting the faith of the simpler and less formed faithful, avoiding attitudes which they may not comprehend and that they could consider as contempt for their faith or an offence to their rights.

I take the opportunity to respectfully greet Your Excellency and to confirm my esteem and consideration.

Yours faithfully in Domino
+ Jorge Medina Estevez
Archbishop Pro-Prefect

+ Geraldo M. Agnelo
Archbishop Secretary


Annexed to protocol 2287/96/L:

[...] The Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus affirms that the Holy Rosary as a Gospel prayer, centred on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, is therefore a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation (n. 46).

[...] One must not expose the Eucharist just to recite the Rosary, however amongst the prayers said, certainly the recitation of the Rosary may be included, underlining its Christological aspects with scripture readings pertinent to the mysteries and giving space for silent meditation and adoration of the same.


This Dicastery appropriately bears also these letters making them available for the public domain, which are of the Apostolic Penitentiary, dated 8 March 1996 and refer to the same argument.



Prot. n. 29/96/L
Rome, 8 March 1996

[...] In grant n. 48 of the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum a plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful that devoutly recite the Marian Rosary (even just the third part of it) in a church or oratory.

From the same quoted text it is clear that in no way may it be excluded from the above-mentioned grant the recitation of the Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, both when reserved in the tabernacle and when exposed, in accordance with the general principle of juridical hermeneutics (nothing is excepted where nothing is distinct).

Furthermore, this practice is praiseworthy because whilst our Lord Jesus Christ truly present is adored, also the most Blessed Virgin Mary is invoked with prayers which are essentially biblical (the Our Father, the Hail Mary in its first part, and the Mystery of salvation).

Therefore, the faithful do an excellent thing in continuing such a pious custom in churches.

Yours faithfully [...]

Fr Luigi De Magistris

Fr Ubaldo M. Tedeschini

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

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