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(Or Seraphic Rosary.)
A Rosary consisting of seven decades in commemoration of the seven joys of the Blessed Virgin (the Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of our Lord, Adoration of the Magi, Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the Resurrection of Our Lord, and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and her Coronation in heaven), in use among the members of the three orders of St. Francis.
The Franciscan Crown dates back to the year 1422. Wadding tells us that a young novice who had that year been received into the Franciscan Order had, previous to his reception, been accustomed to adorn a statue of the Blessed Virgin with a wreath of fresh and beautiful flowers as a mark of his piety and devotion. Not being able to continue this practice in the novitiate, he decided to return to the world. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him and prevented him from carrying out his purpose. She then instructed him how, by reciting daily a rosary of seven decades in honour of her seven joys, he might weave a crown that would be more pleasing to her than the material wreath of flowers he had been wont to place on her statue. From that time the practice of reciting the crown of the seven joys became general in the order.
The manner of reciting the Franciscan Rosary is as follows: The Apostles' Creed, the Our Father, and three Hail Marys having been said as usual, the mystery to be meditated upon is introduced after the word Jesus of the first Hail Mary of each decade, thus: "Jesus, whom thou didst joyfully conceive", "Jesus, whom thou didst joyfully carry to Elizabeth", and so on for the remaining five decades, which are given in most manuals of Franciscan devotion. At the end of the seventh decade two Hail Marys are added to complete the number of years (72) that the Blessed Virgin is said to have lived on earth.
There are other ways of reciting the Crown but the one given seems to be in more general use. The plenary Indulgence attached to the recitation of the Franciscan Crown, and applicable to the dead, may be gained as often as the crown is recited.
It is not required that the beads be blessed, or in fact that beads be used at all, since the Indulgence is not attached to the material rosary, but to the recitation of the prayers as such. In 1905 Pope Pius X, in response to the petition of the Procurator General of the Friars Minor, enriched the Franciscan Crown with several new Indulgences that may be gained by all the faithful. Those who assist at a public recitation of the Franciscan Crown participate in all the Indulgences attached to the Seraphic Rosary that are gained by the members of the Franciscan Order. It is required, however, that beads be used and that they be blessed by a priest having the proper faculties. A translation of the pontifical Brief is given in "St. Anthony's Almanac" for 1909.
STEPHEN M. DONOVAN