The Episcopal / Anglican Rosary

What is the Episcopal / Anglican Rosary?

Many religions use beads as a tactile prayer device to center and focus the mind on the act of prayer. These include Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians.

Roman Catholic rosary beads


Roman Catholics have been praying with beads called a rosary since the middle ages. The focus of the Roman Catholic rosary is Jesus but the guide connecting the prayers is his mother, Mary. The Roman Catholic rosary has five sets of ten beads separated by five larger beads with a pendant attached consisting of a crucifix or cross and a chain of two large and three smaller beads. The beads are used to count prayers recited in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary while meditating on scenes from the life of Christ and his Mother. On the sets of ten beads the Hail Mary prayer is recited: "Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." The first two sentences of this prayer come from the Gospel according to Saint Luke. The third sentence is a petition added at the end of the 15th century.




During the Reformation, Luther allowed the rosary to be prayed but the petition was dropped. Calvin and other reformers forbade the praying of the rosary. In the Church of England, the rosary continued to be prayed with no changes. Today, many Protestants do not pray the rosary as they only know it as a Roman Catholic tradition. In addition, many Protestants dislike the petition part of the "Hail Mary" prayer as they are uncomfortable with asking a dead person to pray for them.

Episcopal / Anglican Prayer Beads

The Episcopal / Anglican prayer beads were developed in 1980 by an Episcopal priest and his parishioners. They were looking for a tactical prayer aid to use during retreats. Episcopal / Anglican Prayer Beads have thirty-three beads in total (for the thirty-three years Jesus lived as a human) and a cross (as opposed to a crucifix). The beads are grouped in sevens rather than tens and there are four sets of seven beads (called Week Beads). The four sets of Week beads represent the four gospels. The seven beads represent the seven days of creation and the seven seasons of the church year. Large beads called cruciform beads separate the four sets of Week beads. After the cross there is a large bead called the Invitatory bead. While there are many variations of the Episcopal / Anglican rosary, in all cases the prayers recited are based on scripture and the "Hail Mary" prayer is not used. Instead, the Jesus Prayer is often recited on the sets of Week Beads (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner).

To learn more about prayer beads and the rosary, click here to watch a video (15 minutes, YouTube).





Pray the Episcopal / Anglican Rosary Online

A small group of people has been meeting online since Lent of 2021 to pray the rosary together. We meet via Zoom on Mondays and Fridays at 8:00 a.m. You do not need to be an Episcopalian or an Anglican join us. Everyone is welcome.

Here is the outline of the rosary we pray.

Episcopal / Anglican Prayer Beads
  1. The Cross - antiphon prayer from Morning Prayer service (pages 80-82 of the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer)

  2. Invitatory bead - Collect of Sunday / the Day

  3. Cruciform bead - the Trisagion (Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us)

  4. Week Beads - the Jesus Payer is recited on each Week bead (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner)

  5. Steps 3 and 4 are repeated three times (for each person of the Trinity).

  6. Invitatory bead - Lord's Prayer

  7. The Cross - the rosary concludes on the Cross with a scripture sentence from Morning Prayer (page 75 - 78, the prayer changes with the seasons of the church year).


Where do I get Episcopal / Anglican Rosary Beads?

There are several places to buy Episcopal / Anglican Rosary beads.