The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer. Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth.
— Pope St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 2
The Rosary is not merely a string of beads with a crucifix attached. It is a centuries-old beloved prayer of the Catholic Church and has an interesting background. Some say that the use of beads to count prayers dates back to the Middle Ages. In fact, the Desert Fathers used beads for keeping track of prayers in the fourth century. The Rosary itself was gradually developed between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. Tradition holds that St. Dominic (d. 1221) received the Rosary from the Blessed Mother and went on to preach the use of the Rosary through his missionary work in France among the Albigensians, who did not believe in the Incarnation of Christ. There is some disagreement about whether the fully evolved Rosary was initiated by St. Dominic.
Some scholars say the Rosary is not mentioned in the earliest accounts of his life, nor is he associated with the Rosary in any of the Dominican constitutions. Some say that the Rosary took on a long and gradual development beginning before St. Dominic’s time and that it had attained its final form well after St. Dominic’s time. Whether or not St. Dominic devised the Rosary, he certainly passionately and successfully preached its use to convert sinners and those who had lost their faith. As well, several popes have paid tribute to St. Dominic’s affiliation with the Rosary.