One unique devotion of the Franciscans is a seven-decade rosary known as the Franciscan Crown. While the traditional rosary consists of 5 decades which meditate on 15 mysteries (or 20 if you pray the Luminous mysteries) the 7-decade Franciscan Rosary, known as the The Franciscan Crown, is a Rosary consisting of seven decades with each decade describing a particular joy from the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


The story of the Rosary of the Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin dates back to the early 15th century. A pious young man named James had been accustomed to adorning a beautiful statue of Mary with a crown of flowers, which he had picked and woven himself. He later entered the Franciscan Order, but either because of a lack of time or permission, he was no longer able to continue this devotion. Distraught because of this, he decided to abandon the religious life and return to the world.


Our Lady then appeared to him and convinced him not to leave the order. She told him that he should not be downcast because he was no longer permitted to adorn her statue, for she would teach him a way to give her honor which was much more pleasing and meritorious. Instead of a crown of flowers, which quickly wither, he was to weave a crown of prayers, and these prayers could be offered at any moment. She then taught him the Rosary of the Seven Joys, adding that these prayers would not only form a more acceptable crown, but they would also yield innumerable graces for himself and others.


Among the Friars Minor, the promotion of this devotion is attributed to St. Bonaventure, Bl. Cherubin of Spoleto, St. John Capistran, Pelbart of Temesvár, and St. Bernadine of Siena to mention a few. St. Bernadine is said to have had a vision of the Virgin Mary when he was meditating on the seven joys of Mary. We pray the Franciscan Crown in community every Saturday.


The Seven Joys are:

1) The Annunciation

2) The Visitation

3) The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ

4) The Adoration of the Magi

5) The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

6) The Appearance of Christ to Mary after the Resurrection

7) The Assumption and Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven


During Lent we pray the 7 Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:  

  1. The prophecy of Simeon
  2. The flight to Egypt
  3. The loss of the Child Jesus for 3 days
  4. Mary meets Jesus carrying the cross.
  5. The Crucifixion of Jesus
  6. The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of Mary.
  7. The body Jesus is placed in the tomb


How to Pray the Crown Rosary

The Franciscan Crown Rosary begins quite simply by stating the first joy and then praying one Our Father and ten Hail Marys while meditating upon it. This same procedure is then followed for the other six joys. Even though it is common practice nowadays to add the Glory Be at the end of each decade, and even the Fatima Prayer, these are not required. It is customary to finish by adding two Hail Marys in honor of the 72 years that Our Lady is said to have lived on earth, and one Our Father and Hail Mary for the intentions of the Pope.

32 thoughts on “The 7 Decade Rosary

    1. Any Franciscan bookstore should have it. Try . Once you are there, just type “Franciscan Crown” into the search bar.

  1. The Seven Sorrows rosary chaplet is totally different from the Franciscan Crown Rosary. It consists of seven group of seven beads meditating on the above-listed Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. You end with 3 Hail Mary for all the tears she shed during her life. I use it on the Feast of Our Mother of Sorrows & during Lent.

    1. I have one of these rosaries from my late Grandmother. Thank you for finally telling me what it is and how to pray upon it.

      1. I also found one of these Rosaries in my Grandmother’s house after she died. Thank you so much for the information. This rosary is very special for me’

    2. I m learning about the seven sorrows of mary’s rosary and praying it. Today I found out about the seven Joys of the Blessed Mother. Do they make a rosary seven decades with ten beads.

  2. Thank you for explaining the 7 Joy Rosary. I acquired a really old one but I did not know how to pray it. Very helpful.

  3. Please assist me with one more explanation. My rosary is just a little different. After the crucifix, there is a Hail Mary bead, followed by one Our Father bead, then two more Hail Mary beads, followed by the Our Father bead.

    1. That is the way they were originally made for praying the concluding prayers (see explanation above). It is more “authentic” than having the 3 Hail Marys in a row like the traditional rosary.

  4. Thank you for explaining the seven decade rosary . I was fortunate to visit Assisi and bought a wooden one , I loved Assisi and I’m happy now to know how to pray this type of rosary .

  5. I have obtained a Franciscan Crown Rosary which was my Grandfathers… he was a lay member of the Franciscans … the group is no longer in our area … my question is can one become a member of the Franciscans and how is this accomplished…

    1. Yes, lay faithful can become Third Order Franciscans. Check with your diocese to see what third order groups are in your area.

    2. If you send an email to, they will work with you to find a Secular Franciscan Fraternity in your area. This email address is monitored by the National Secretary of Secular Franciscans in the United States.

      Or, you can go to the National website,, and click CONTACT then SEND US A MESSAGE and enter your information. Someone will get back to you.

      Blessings on this journey!

  6. I got my 4 decades Rosary from a friend of my mother. The lady is 94 years old.
    I thought at first it was a broken Rosary but later found out that it was the Chaplet for the Dead. I enjoy it so much and now say it every day for the Poor Souls.

  7. My mom just passed away 11 days ago and I kept the rosary that was in her hands because my sister put her one of her rosaries. I realized that it was different and googled it to this site. Mine has the cross, three beads and followed by the seven decades.

  8. Mine has the cross, three beads and followed by the seven decades. My mom just passed away 11 days ago and I kept the rosary that was in her hands because my sister put her one of her rosaries. I realized that it was different and googled it to this site.

  9. I was just gifted a rosary from Medjugoria. It has the cross, 7 beads, then to the left 3 beads, the Our Father, then 6 decades of 5 beads each with an Iur Father between each decade. Is this also a Franciscan Crown rosary? Thank you

  10. We have our mother’s Crown rosary. From the comments above this rosary must be fairly old. We understand our mother and possible her mother ( from France) belonged to a sisterhood of married women who prayed together. Any insight ?

  11. I lived at Mt. Alvernia in Millvale PA during my high school years (1964-68). It was a Franciscan convent on a hill with a beautiful serpentine brick driveway. There was a cemetery for the deceased religious. Us prep students lived in St. Clare Hall. We got our outdoor exercise daily walking in two rows on the grounds reciting the Franciscan Crown rosary. I got the rosary out today and used a YouTube video to recall how to use the beads properly. Muscle memory and spiritual practice is a beautiful thing! I am now 70 and intend to bring this practice back into my life. Thank you for the background information.

  12. You mention the 72 Years Our Lady was to have spent on earth, but the six decade rosary is said to commemorate the 63 Years Our Lady spent on earth. Could you please advise which is correct if known.

  13. Such an interesting conversation. I have been researching the Franciscan Crown Rosary for about ten years now and plan to write a book about it soon. This rosary was unofficially suppressed by Vatican II, after which it was stripped of its indulgences and removed from most Franciscan habits. Prior to that it was the most richly indulgenced private devotion in the Catholic Church. It is extremely difficult to get the straight story on its modern history, just as it is difficult to find the earliest accounts of its origin, but both an be had with persistent digging through old pre-Vatican II journals.

  14. In between each decade, we used to say, “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, safe us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven especially those who have most need of thy mercy!” I was a Franciscan nun at the time, st

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