The rosary is an incredibly rich practice of prayer that developed slowly, evolving over the centuries. The first recorded use of the word “rosary” did not appear until 1597. (???.) But the roots of the rosary are found far earlier.


St. Peter Canisius published the Hail Mary in his 1555 Catechism with almost the entire final petition: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.” Eleven years later, the Catechism of the Council of Trent (a work that Canisius was instrumental in creating) included, for the first time, the entire final petition, concluding with the words “now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

The version of the Hail Mary which is  prayed today was given official approval in 1568.



Rosario della gloriosa Vergine Maria :  con lle sttattiionii & iindullgenttiie delllle chiiese di Roma perr tutto L’’anno. 



353J Alberto da Castello (ca. 1460-1522)

Rosario della gloriosa Vergine Maria :  con lle sttattiionii & iindullgenttiie delllle chiiese di Roma perr tutto L’’anno. 

In Venetia : Presso la compagnia de gli Vniti,1585.          $7,800

Octavo. 6 x 3 3/4.    A-Z, Aa-Ii8. A later edition of the first ‘Rosary Book” in Italian.

This book has a wonderful contemporary binding, recently expertly rebacked. It is of red Morocco with gilt center images and borders gilt, with angels. Certainly these books were very popular, that said, very few copies have survived. This edition is represented on OCLC by only two copies worldwide. 1 US copy Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University. (SJU Alcuin Arca Artium Rare BookBX2163 .C37 1585)

IMG_3050The authorship of the work and the pictures are attributable to the Dominican Friar Alberto da Castello, identified as author or editor at the authorizations of the Venecian Inquisition, given 5 April 1521. (Francesco Pisano)

Over 150  woodcuts (including 8 repeats) comprising  almost full-page cuts (1 on t.p.) with borders  All had previously appeared in earlier editions. Ornamental and pictorial border pieces on almost every page. ( The wood cut on leaf 173v is upside down in the border!) The wood cuts represent the “Mysteries of the Rosary”

The mysteries of the rosary were introduced by Dominic of Prussia sometime between 1410 and 1439. This gave each decade of the rosary a unique quality. Each mystery leads us to ponder very specific events in the lives of Jesus and Mary and the lessons they hold for our own lives today.

There were originally three sets of mysteries: the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries.IMG_3055

The Joyful Mysteries

The Annunciation
The Visitation
The Birth of Jesus
The Presentation
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

The Sorrowful Mysteries

The Agony in the Garden
The Scourging at the Pillar
The Crowning with Thorns
The Carrying of the Cross
The Crucifixion
The Glorious Mysteries

The Resurrection
The Ascension
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
The Assumption
The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth

The Rosary has a ritual aspect that individual prayers lack, and it is highly structured. It entails the recitation of 150 Ave Marias, clustered in groups of ten, preceded by a Pater noster and the proposition of a ‘mystery’ upon which to meditate. This number of 150 Ave Marias seems to be designed to correspond to the 150 psalms in the Davidic psalter, which is why the Rosary is also known as the ‘Virgin’s psalter’. It does not consist only of repetitive prayers, however, but also entails IMG_3049meditations. Indeed, the Rosary created by Dominic of Prussia was a kind of meditation on the life of Christ and Mary. In his Liber experientiarum he ‘explicitly claimed to be the first to have composed a series of fifty points on the life of Christ that were to be meditated on while recit- ing the Ave Marias’.


In this book there are  one hundred and fifty Hail Marys each having  separate picture engraved for it, representing a distinct aspect of the mystery to which it belongs. 



 Sander 6572-6573. See: Essling 2124