“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer,” writes St John Paul II in the opening paragraphs of Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

“In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. […] With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love,” the sainted pontiff continues.

It is not surprising that St John Paul II invites us in this apostolic letter to contemplate the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ through the eyes of His Blessed Mother. As she herself proclaims to her cousin Elizabeth: “My soul magnifies the Lord!” That is, as the first Christian and missionary, Mary makes God even more visible to us.

To help us deepen this understanding of the life of Christ, St John Paul II then proposed the five Luminous Mysteries alongside the traditional Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Pope Francis has continued in this tradition of his predecessor in asking us to contemplate the life of Christ through Mary. Here is Pope Francis’s teaching on the five Luminous Mysteries:

The Luminous Mysteries

1 – The Baptism in the Jordan

From the Angelus Address: Baptism of Our Lord (January 7, 2018):

We then understand the great humility of Jesus, the One who had not sinned, in lining up with the penitents, mingled among them to be baptized in the waters of the river. In doing so, He manifested what we celebrated at Christmas: the availability of Jesus to immerse Himself in the river of humanity, to take upon Himself the shortcomings and weaknesses of humanity, to share our desire to be free and to overcome everything that separates us from God and makes us strangers to our brothers and sisters. Just like in Bethlehem, along the banks of the River Jordan, God keeps his promise to take charge of the fate of human beings, and Jesus is the tangible and definitive sign.

2 – The Wedding Feast at Cana

From the General Audience (June 8, 2016):

In the context of the Covenant, we are also to understand Our Lady’s observation: “They have no wine” (v. 3). How can one celebrate a wedding feast and make merry without what the prophets indicated as a typical element of the messianic banquet (cf. Am 9:13-14; Jl 2:24; Is 25:6)? Water is necessary for life, but wine expresses the abundance of a banquet and the joy of a feast. This wedding feast was short of wine; the newlyweds are ashamed of this. But just imagine ending a wedding feast drinking tea; it would be a shame. Wine is necessary for a feast. By transforming into wine the water of the jars used “for the Jewish rites of purification” (Jn 2:6), Jesus preforms an eloquent sign: he transforms the Law of Moses into the Gospel, bearer of joy. As John states elsewhere: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17).

3 – The Proclamation of the Kingdom

From the Angelus Address (February 8, 2015):

Preaching and healing: this was Jesus’ principle activity in his public ministry. With his preaching he proclaims the Kingdom of God, and with his healing he shows that it is near, that the Kingdom of God is in our midst.

4 – The Transfiguration

From the Angelus Address (February 25, 2018):

Jesus took with Him three disciples: Peter, James and John and “led them up a high mountain “ (Mark 9:2); and there He showed them His glory for a moment, the glory of the Son of God. So this event of the Transfiguration enables the disciples to face the Passion of Jesus in a positive way, without being overwhelmed.

5 – The Institution of the Eucharist

From the Homily for Corpus Christi (June 18, 2017):

The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit. When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love.

See Also

1 – The Joyful Mysteries with Pope Francis

2 – The Luminous Mysteries with Pope Francis

3 – The Sorrowful Mysteries with Pope Francis

4 – The Glorious Mysteries with Pope Francis


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Pete Vere is a canonist, author, and catechist. His books include Surprised by Canon Law (volumes 1 & 2), More Catholic Than The Pope, and Annulments: 100 Questions and Answers. Pete and wife Sonya are blessed with seven children. In his spare time Pete enjoys camping with his family, riding his Indian Scout motorcycle, and refereeing professional wrestling.

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