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``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D


The Franciscan Crown
(Seraphic Rosary)

The Ecstasy of St. Francis, by Caravaggio

The Franciscan Crown, or "Rosary of the Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary" -- also known as the "Seraphic Rosary" -- is a 7-decade Rosary that focuses on the 7 Joys of Mary. It's an ancient Franciscan sacramental that has its origins in A.D. 1422, when a young man, whose name is unknown to us, joined the Franciscan Order. He'd had the practice of crowning a statue of Mary with garlands of fresh flowers, but couldn't continue the practice during his novitiate. When he was tempted to leave the Order, he had a vision of Our Lady, who told him, "Do not be sad and cast down, my son, because you are no longer permitted to place wreaths of flowers on my statue. I will teach you to change this pious practice into one that will be far more pleasing to me and far more meritorious to your soul. In place of the flowers that soon wither and cannot always be found, you can weave for me a crown from the flowers of your prayers that will always remain fresh."

She then asked that the novice say one Pater and 10 Aves in honor of each of her Seven Joys -- the Annunciation; Visitation; Nativity; Adoration of the Magi; Finding Jesus in the Temple; Resurrection; and Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin.

The young friar began his prayers as instructed, and when he was deep in the middle of it, the novice master noticed him, and watched as an Angel wove a garland of fresh roses, inserting a golden lily after each tenth rose. When the novice's prayers were finished, the Angel crowned him with the garland.

The novice master asked if the novice knew anything about the vision he'd just seen, and after it was explained to him, he told the rest of his brothers what he'd seen. Thereafter, the practice of reciting what became known as the "Franciscan Crown" spread.

Seven decades of 10 Aves equal 70 Aves, but two Aves were later added to make the total of the Aves equal to seventy-two, the number of years that Our Lady is said to have lived on earth.

When praying the Franciscan Crown, one can keep count on standard Dominican Rosary Beads, just going an extra two decades; use no beads at all; or obtain a 7-decade Rosary made just for praying the Franciscan Crown. The beads do not have to be blessed (unless one is praying the Franciscan Crown publicly and is intending to gain the indulgences given to those attached to the Franciscan Order when making this devotion).

To pray the Franciscan Crown, one simply prays a Pater, and then 10 Aves, for each decade, in honor of each of the 7 Joys at each decade (meditation on those Joys isn't necessary). Then add two Aves at the end. One may also add a Pater, Ave, and Gloria at the very end for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Some announce the Joys by incorporating them into the Ave, like this:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, Whom thou didst joyfully conceive. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

There are many variations of the Seraphic Rosary: some add the Apostles Creed, three Aves, and a Pater before beginning, as in the Dominican Rosary; some add Glorias to the Paters in between the decades, etc.

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