Both the Anglican and Roman Catholic rosaries provide a tactile means of counting prayers, freeing the person using the beads to contemplate the prayers' meanings. The rosaries differ in several ways, however, including number of beads, types of prayer and purpose.
Religions of all kinds have used prayer beads throughout history. The Roman Catholic rosary originated sometime between the 12th and 15th century. The Rev. Lynn Baumann created the Anglican rosary in the mid-1980s as an aid to contemplative prayer.
The Anglican rosary is made up 33 beads, while the Catholic rosary has 59. The Anglican rosary is divided into four weeks of seven beads each, and the Catholic rosary has five decades of 10 beads apiece. A single bead separates the weeks and decades on both rosaries. The Catholic rosary features a crucifix and a small religious medal, but the Anglican rosary usually has a plain cross.
Both rosaries are prayed by touching the cross and each successive bead in order. There are no set prayers for the Anglican prayer beads. The Catholic rosary's prayers follow a long-established pattern that includes the recitation of Hail Marys on each of the 10 decade beads.
The rosary is one of the most important devotions of the Roman Catholic Church designed to venerate the Virgin Mary and contemplate the life of Christ. The Anglican rosary is an aid to meditative prayer that people can adapt to their own spiritual needs.
The beads of the Catholic rosary represent the prayers said during this devotion. The Anglican rosary's beads have symbolic meanings. For example, the 33 beads represent the years of Christ's life on earth.
Anyone can pray the rosary, whether the Anglican or Catholic version. Pope John Paul II, in his 2002 apostolic letter "The Rosary of the Virgin Mary," invited all Christians to say the Catholic rosary regularly.