Franciscan Crown Rosary (Seraphic Rosary) Rosary of the Seven Joys
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Franciscan Crown, or the Rosary of the Seven Joys of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, is an ancient sacramental treasured by the
Franciscan order. Father Luke Wadding, a well-known Franciscan
historian, dates the inception of this chaplet to 1422, the
entrance date into the novitiate of the order of an unnamed pious
young man. This young devotee of Mary had been accustomed, before
his entrance, to decorate a statue of the Virgin with crowns of
fresh flowers. This practice was forbidden to him in the
novitiate, and fearing a lack of devotion to his Queen, he
determined to leave the order.
In a vision, Our Lady appeared to him and told him, "Do not be sad
and cast down, my son, because you are no longer permitted to
place wreaths of flowers on my statue. I will teach you to change
this pious practice into one that will be far more pleasing to me
and far more meritorious to your soul. In place of the flowers
that soon wither and cannot always be found, you can weave for me
a crown from the flowers of your prayers that will always remain
Thereupon, Our Lady requested the young friar to say one Our
Father and ten Hail Mary's in honor of seven joyous occasions in
her life: (1) the Annunciation, (2) the Visitation, (3) the birth
of Christ, (4) the adoration of the Magi, (5) the finding of Jesus
in the Temple, (6) the resurrection of Our Lord, and (7) the
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven.
As the vision faded, the overjoyed novice began to recite the
prayers as she had instructed him to do. While he was devoutly
praying, the novice master passed by and saw an angel weaving a
wreath of roses. After every tenth rose, he inserted a golden
lily. When the wreath was finished, the angel placed it on the
head of the praying novice.
The novice master demanded under holy obedience that the novice
explain to him the meaning of the vision. The novice complied, and
the novice master was so impressed with what he had heard that he
immediately told his brother friars. The practice of reciting the
Crown of the Seven Joys soon spread to the entire Order.
In later years, two Hail Mary's were added to make the total of
the Hail Marys equal to seventy-two, the number of years that Our
Lady is said by Franciscans to have lived on earth. A final Hail
Mary and Our Father were added for the intention of the Pope. In
the twentieth century, it has become customary to add a profession
of faith such as the Apostles' Creed to the recitation of this
crown. Additionally, since 1968 it has become customary to combine
the former third and fourth mysteries and to add two other
combined mysteries as the meditation for the fourth decade-the
presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the purification of the
Taken from "A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals" by Ann Ball,
published by Our Sunday Visitor.
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