Catholics are familiar with the five-decade Rosary given to us by the Dominicans, but did you know the Franciscans also pray a seven-decade Rosary known as the Franciscan Crown?
The Franciscan Crown Rosary dates back the 15th century when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Assisi to a Franciscan friar named James. As a child, James offered Mary a crown of roses every day as a sign of his love and devotion to her. When he joined the Franciscans, James was distressed that he could no longer make this offering of flowers to Our Lady. But Mary appeared to James, and she instructed him to weave for her a crown of prayers instead by reciting a Rosary of seven decades, each one meditating on one of the seven joyful events in her life (the annunciation, the visitation, the birth of Jesus, the adoration of the magi, the finding of the child Jesus in the temple, the appearance of Jesus to Mary after the Resurrection, and the assumption and coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven).
During Lent, Franciscans pray the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary instead of the Seven Joys:
- The prophecy of Simeon
- The flight to Egypt
- The loss of the Child Jesus for three days
- Mary meets Jesus carrying the cross
- The Crucifixion of Jesus
- The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of Mary
- The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb
Many Franciscan saints promoted this devotion, which is still prayed today in many Franciscan communities.
How to Pray the Franciscan Crown
Following a brief meditation on each joy (or sorrow), pray 1 Our Father, and 10 Hail Marys. It is customary after the seventh mystery to pray 2 additional Hail Marys in honor of the 72 years that tradition holds Our Lady lived on earth.
Franciscan Crown rosaries are available for purchase on the Franciscan University Bookstore website.