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.
CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF
THE SACRAMENTS [Notitiae 34 (1998) 384-385]:
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.
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
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
+ Geraldo M. Agnelo
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
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