What Are Rosary Prayer Beads?

What Are Rosary Prayer Beads?

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


Prayer beads are a meditation tool for tracking your progress. As you complete each prayer, you move your grip to the subsequent bead.

There are different types of prayer beads that generally vary by the number of beads. (Knots can also represent beads.) Roman Catholics use Rosary prayer beads (the “Rosary”) that are comprised of 59 beads. (Six large beads for Our Father, and 53 small beads for Hail Mary.)

Simple sketch of rosary beads, with labels.
Labeled illustration of rosary prayer beads.

For each day of the week, there are five miracles (mysteries) that are contemplated during the meditation, and prayers are recited during this meditative contemplation. (A “decade” refers to the ten Hail Mary beads that comprise a miracle.)

When learning this meditative prayer, it is perfectly understandable that you take the time necessary for maintaining your meditative concentration.

With practice, you are not merely reading verses mechanically, but are maintaining a heightened state of mind, or consciousness, that will aid your receptiveness towards the Word of God.

(And in this manner, meditative contemplation helps the salt to retain its savour.)