Is the Rosary more about Mary than Jesus?

I read a book by an Evangelical author that said there is very little of Jesus in the Rosary. Many Evangelicals think the Rosary is "all about Mary" or that the primary focus of the Rosary is on Mary. I've done a little counting.

I understand that it is kind of a “heady” examination to count verses but I can assure you, it is the first time I have ever done it. Usually the Rosary is a very organic thing for me. Kind of like when I memorize a great worship song.

So at the risk of highlighting the dreaded “repetition” factor of the Rosary, let’s do some counting just for interest sake to see what percentage is about Jesus.

In summary: the Rosary is 65% directly to Jesus and about him. It is 35% honouring and requesting prayers from Mary, his Mother.

88% of the Rosary is directly from the Bible, 12% is from the wisdom of early Christians.

There are two layers, the meditation layer and the physical layer.

The Meditation Layer

Each decade of the Rosary focuses on a section of Scripture as a meditation. These are called the mysteries. Out of 20 meditation decades (5 are done each day) 18 of them follow Jesus through the Bible and two are related to Mary (Assumption and Coronation).

Meditations are 20 Mysteries: 18 Excerpts from the Bible (0.9) + 1 Based on the Bible (Coronation) (0.05) + 1 From the catholic tradition (Assumption) (0.05).

That is:

  • Jesus 90%
  • Mary 10%
  • (95% is right out of the Bible)

“Joyful Mysteries” (Monday & Saturday)

First Decade: The Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
Second Decade: The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56)
Third Decade: The Birth of Our Lord (Luke 2:1-21)
Fourth Decade: The Presentation of Our Lord (Luke 2:22-38)
Fifth Decade: The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)

“Luminous Mysteries” (Thursday)

First Decade: The Baptism of Our Lord in the River Jordan (Matthew 3:13-16)
Second Decade: The Wedding at Cana, when Christ manifested Himself (Jn 2:1-11)
Third Decade: The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15)
Fourth Decade: The Transfiguration of Our Lord (Matthew 17:1-8)
Fifth Decade: The Last Supper, when Our Lord gave us the Holy Eucharist (Mt 26)

“Sorrowful Mysteries” (Tuesday & Friday)

First Decade: The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-56)
Second Decade: Our Lord is Scourged at the Pillar (Matthew 27:26)
Third Decade: Our Lord is Crowned with Thorns (Matthew 27:27-31)
Fourth Decade: Our Lord Carries the Cross to Calvary (Matthew 27:32)
Fifth Decade: The Crucifixion of Our Lord (Matthew 27:33-56)

“Glorious Mysteries” (Wednesday & Sunday)

First Decade: The Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord (John 20:1-29)
Second Decade: The Ascension of Our Lord (Luke 24:36-53)
Third Decade: The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41)
Fourth Decade: The Assumption of Mary into Heaven (Song of Songs 2:2,10-11)
Fifth Decade: The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth (Gn 3:15a) (Jdt 13:18) (Jdt 15:9) (Rv 12:1) (Sir 24:4) (Sir 14:9) (Cor 4:17) (Lk 8:21)(Gal 4:19)



The Physical Layer

The Rosary starts with the Apostles Creed which is accepted in most denominations. It is 15 lines long, all of them scriptural.

The “Our Father” is repeated before each decade (6 times). It is approximately 11 lines of text (in most Bibles). That is 36 lines of “Jesus” text.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

(Said after each decade)” is said 6 times, This is 4 lines long for a total of 24 lines

O my Jesus, forgive us of our sins.
Save us from the fires of hell.
Lead all souls into heaven,
especially those in most need of thy mercy.

(Said after each decade)” This is said 5 times and is four lines long for 20 Lines.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. (Luke 1:28)
Blessed art thou among women (Luke 1:41-42a ,Luke 1:48) ,
Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus (Luke 1:42b)
Holy Mary, Mother of God (Luke 1:43)
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

The “Hail Mary” is 5 lines long but besides being mostly direct Scripture, line 3 is specifically about Jesus. The Hail Mary is said 53 times. Here’s the math.

  • 15 lines of the Creed + 36 lines of the Our Father + 24 lines of the Glory be + 20 lines of the “Oh my Jesus”+ 53 x 1 line addressed to Jesus in the Hail Mary = 148 lines "to Jesus"
  • 53 Hail Maries x 4 lines addressed to Mary = 212 lines "to Mary" (106 excerpts from the Bible. All of them -212- based on it)
  • 36 lines from Our Father + 106 from Hail Mary + = 142 excerpts from the Bible (almost a copy of the passages)
  • 15 lines from the Creed + 36 from Our Father  + 212 from Hail Mary + 24 from Glory be (Fil. 4,20) = 287 lines based on the Scripture.

By doing the Rosary in the physical layer we pray: 148 lines "to Jesus" + 212 lines "to Mary"= 360 in total

  • 212/360=0.59 Thus, 59% of the physical layer is requesting of prayer and honouring addressed to Mary. (29% of them are strictly excerpts from the Bible 106/360=0.29)
  • 148/360=0.41 Thus, 41% of the physical layer is addressed to Jesus directly. (10% of them are strictly excerpts from the Bible 36/360=0.1)
  • 142/360=0.39. Thus, the all physical layer is configured by 39% of prayers which are excerpts from the Bible.
  • 287/360=0.80 Thus, the all physical layer is configured by 80% of Bible based prayers.

The physical layer is, in summary:

  • 41% Jesus (10% Bible Text)
  • and 59% Mary  (29% Bible Text)
  • 39% Textual excerpts from the Bible
  • 80% of Bible based prayers



Combined layers of the Rosary

  • 0.9 Meditation prayers (18/20) + 0.41 Vocal Prayers (148/360)= 1.31 addressed to Jesus
  • 0.1 Meditation prayers (2/20) +0.59 Vocal Prayers (212/360) = 0.69 addressed to Mary
  • The whole Rosary contains both layers: 360 lines of vocal prayers + 20 Meditations 
  • 1.31 Jesus + 0.69 Mary = 2

Thus, to calculate whom is addressed we can consider:

  • Jesus: 1.31/2 = 0.65 (in percentage 65%)
  • Mary: 0.69/2= 0.35 (in percentage 35%)
  • 36 lines of the vocal prayers + 18 meditations of 380 are Biblical excerpts addressed to Jesus = 0.14. (In percentage 15%)
  • 106 lines of the vocal prayers + 1 meditation of 380 are Biblical excerpts addressed to Mary = 0.28 (In percentage 28%)

In summary:

65% is addressed to Jesus (15% Bible Text) and 35% honouring and requesting prayers from Mary (28% Bible Text).

rosary Graphic

How much Scripture do we find in the whole Rosary?:

  • 0.95 Meditation prayers (19/20) are textual excerpt from the Bible
  • 0.39 Vocal prayers (142/360) are textual excerpt from the Bible
  • 0.80 Vocal prayers (287/360) are Bible based (including textual excerpts and biblical foundations)
  • 1.0 Whole Meditation layer (20/20) + 1.0 Whole Physical layer (360/360) = 2
  • 0.95 Meditation prayers + 0.39 Vocal prayers = 1.34 1.34/2 = 0.67 (in percentage= 67%)
  • 0.95 Meditation prayers + 0.80 Vocal prayers = 1.75 1.75/2 = 0.88. (in percentage = 88%)

The Rosary is 88% from the Scriptures: 67% textual excerpts from the Bible

Scripture and the Rosary

Rosary graphic

An invitation

Many people wish that this thing about Mary would go away and that the Church would be in greater unity with other Christians if it would.

It appears that most of the closed feelings against Mary have crept into the reform movement in the last 100 years. Many great Protestants have had strong feelings for Mary including C.S. Lewis. Most early reformers had strong positive feelings for Mary including Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Wesley. Even Martin Luther spoke to her in the first person saying:

No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity.
(Martin Luther Sermon - Feast of the Visitation, 1537)

We are not apologists. Apart from all this doctrine and stuff, the reason we believe that Mary is in heaven helping us is because each of us had an experience with Mary that we cannot refute (Hugh's testimony here, Diane's testimony here). No one can tell us she is dead. We don't worship her. She is a friend who prays for us and has shown us very cool things about her Son, Jesus. We believe we are better Christians today because of Mary.

If you are afraid to talk to Mary, we invite you to:

Pray to Jesus about Mary.

Any Evangelical would say it is perfectly safe to pray to Jesus about anything. Ask Jesus what's up with Mary. Give him time to respond. We pray you have the same experience that has led to our powerful convictions about the validity of Mary as a helper for the helpless, and a great prayer warrior.

Related articles

  1. Mary in Scripture
  2. Martin Luther's quotes about Mary
  3. Hugh's experience with Mary
  4. Is Mary a pagan goddess?
  5. Do Catholics pray to Mary?
  6. Repetitious prayers?
  7. The rosary
  8. Is the rosary more about Mary than Jesus?
  9. Learn the Rosary
  10. Download audio version of the rosary on MP3
  11. Mary in the early Church and today
  12. Did Mary have a bunch of kids?
  13. What's this co-redemptrix nonsense?
  14. Immaculate conception
  15. Apparitions - what's all that about?