Why do we say the Rosary at Catholic funerals?

By Paul Dion, STL

The question of the week for the is one that you are going to have to figure out for yourselves. I don't think that there is a source that you can consult for the answer to this one.

This question was presented to me by a member of my RCIA class, seeking Baptism through the Rite of Christian Initiation at St. Christopher parish, Moreno Valley, California.

I deeply appreciate this question because it is a seriously probing one. I had an answer ready for them which I will share with you in the Grand Inquisitor's wrap-up.

"Why is it that Catholics always have the recitation of the Holy Rosary as a part of their funerals?"

It's all yours. Tell us what you think.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )


  1. Anonymous11:04 AM

    It is said in honor to those that have died. To help them pass on from purgortory into God's Kingdom. We recite it also to remind us that Christ died for our sins and to ask him for forgiveness. And help us in this life.

    1. Anonymous5:35 PM

      You say you are asking Him to forgive when u are actually praising mary...the bible says not to pray repititiously...many other cults have prayer beads too..its not a new thing or a catholic is pagan...outright pagan
      "Hail Mary..." how is that asking Jesus to forgive you? "the Lords Prayer" is not a prayer but a model or outline on how to pray..but u all have to say it over and over again like robots

    2. Anonymous2:49 PM


    3. Anonymous10:18 AM

      The people that we pray for are still with us and have not passed on. And when we ask for prayer we ask someone who is with us. Mary the mother if Christ has passed on to be with the Lord. She is not a mediator. She cannot hear you. Christ is all we need. Purgatory is not real.

    4. Anonymous3:47 PM

      I just came from from uncles funeral and the way he had a smile on his face in his casket did not tell me he still with us. He was with his King

  2. Diana1:15 PM

    Two weeks ago at Mass at our parish, St. Paul the Apostle in Chino Hills, CA, our priest said that when we pray the Rosary we do not pray to Mary. Instead, we pray WITH Mary.

    At a Catholic funeral, I believe we pray with our mother, Mary, asking her to help us ask God - her son - for mercy for the soul of our dearly departed. So Jesus may forgive the departed's sins and find him worthy to spend eternal life with God in the glory of Heaven.

    After all, who is best to intercede for us with the Son than His own mother, our Blessed Virgin Mother.

  3. Anonymous6:58 PM

    I believe that we say the Rosary in order to meditate on the life of Jesus and Mary. That is what the Rosary is. A scriptural meditation to ponder in our own hearts. As it is a pray given to us by Jesus Mother, Mary, we therefore ask her to remember the person that has just died and ask her for her intercession to her Son. When you have the Queen Mother's ear, how can one say no to her? She is after all, the mother that Jesus gave to us before he died on the cross. Therefore, in her honor, we say her special prayer to speedily send the person on their way to their encounter with God. Hopefully it will be a short stay in Purgatory or directly to the Heavenly gates. Either way, its comforting to know that our prayers can help those who have died. And us the living too.

    1. Thank you for this brief explanation. I will be reciting a Rosary tonight and wanted an easy, brief and simple explanation. Not only do the non Catholics need some form of information on why we say the Rosary, but also for our luke warm Catholics who do not know why or how to say the Holy Rosary.

    2. The important element of the rosary is the meditation of the mysteries of Jesus' life that introduce each decade. This introduction brings us back to the command of Jesus to "do this in memory of me." We recite the rosary in memory of the moments of the terrestrial life of Jesus which He began in Mary's womb. We recite the rosary at funerals because we remember why the person who has died lived in the first imitate and follow Jesus in response to Jesus' invitation, "Come and follow me."

  4. Anonymous8:44 PM

    The Rosary has, always seemed popular at Catholic funerals: however this powerful devotional prayer, closely associated with the Catholic Faith is not, always, recited at Catholic funerals or wakes.

  5. Anonymous8:46 PM

    An article discussing the rosary's place at Catholic funerals and wakes first appeared in The Catholic Key in 1989, and was reprinted in The Catholic Cemeterian in August of 1990. A copy of this article may be found @ . For everyone's information, I have presented portions of this article.

    "For generations the rosary has been an anchor of the Catholic funeral rite. It will surprise many that the 'rosary' does not occur in the official Order of Funerals for Catholics. Nowhere does the rite suggest the rosary for wakes. The omission is nothing new. The funeral rites for the Catholic Church throughout the world were revised in the 1969 Rite of Funerals. It notes that the first time the community gathers for prayer is usually the night before the funeral Mass at a (vigil.)...Instead of ...the rosary the rite suggests a celebration of God's word...
    where one can find the heart of (the) Catholic Faith: the death and resurrection of Christ...
    A second advantage...the rosary is unfamiliar to people outside the Catholic Church...since many (different) faiths attend (the) service...the vigil service provides a form of prayer all can readily enter into and understand.

    I have always associated the rosary with Catholic funerals, so this article has given me some new information also on the Catholic Church and its practices.

  6. Anonymous8:47 PM

    Hi paul, here is my answer to your question, coming from a layman: I would think that the Rosary is contemplative prayer, without this it would lose its meaning. I recall Pope Paul stating that "without contemplation the Rosary is a body without a soul" (I hope I remembered this right); while holding the Rosary, "Hail Mary full of Grace" is recited, concluding with the prayer line, "... now and at the hour of our death." Hope I answered your question OK.

  7. Anonymous8:48 PM

    The Rosary is familiar to every catholic christian. The responses are fixed in memory and available even to the heart and mind numbed by grief. The calming, consoling power of the communal antiphonal prayer works to ease pain and ground the mourner. When we pray the rosary we are praying to one whose grief was at least as profound as our own and upon whose compassionate intercession we may rely. Praying in this way helps take the person(s) praying out of them selves and engage them in a greater whole i.e. the Body of Christ. We are thereby allowed to divide the weight of our grief by the number of people sharing Joyful Mysteries

  8. Paul Dion, STL9:01 PM

    By Paul Dion, STL

    The answers of the participants have been recorded and judged to be excellent. I put you all at ease by saying that there is no correct answer because the recitation of the Rosary at Catholic Wakes is more a popular tradition than an official church tradition.

    This does not make the practice any the less sacred. The Rosary is a complete prayer.

    It has meditation, praise, thanksgiving, petition and atonement for sins contained every step of the way. Look at the list of the"mysteries" and you will see that they remind us of God revealing Himself to us; of saintly disciples following His mandates; of His Son illuminating Himself and His Father before us in 33 short years; of the Son's ultimate holocaust of Himself for the redemption of our human situation and finally the unveiling of the completion of the promise that we would someday be eligible for heavenly life forever after.

    Isn't this why we live? Isn't this why we can die in peace? The Rosary at Catholic wakes is a really practical thing. It's a lot lighter than carrying a bible to the funeral home.

    Look at the "mysteries" and realize that they are all taken from Gospel stories. We carry the words and the pictures in our hearts and our minds. We run the beads through our fingers to remind us of what we're doing. We're comparing the life of Jesus to the life of the dearly departed.

    We're reminding ourselves of the meaning of life. Some of us die young and fast. Some die young and slow. Some die old and surprise us, and some hang on "forever" and we have to thank God for reminding us that their suffering was shared with us, just as the suffering of Jesus was for us.

    No matter who dies, when or how, the Rosary reminds us that we are all family. We pray the prayer of our Mother and our Father. Mary saw her Son's blood fall to the ground as He told her that she was to be our mother. Our tear impregnated handkerchiefs are blessed by her presence in our hearts during the solemn rosary in the presence of our dear one's remains.

    We accompany our deceased and our living with the rosary during our mourning period because the rosary is a personal connection with Jesus' life that we carry around in our pocket every day of our life.

    I have provided you all with a list of the mysteries of the rosary below.

    If you recite the rosary every day ( five mysteries per day) I am taking it upon myself to guarantee you a happy death, because you will already be an intimate friend of Abba, Son, Spirit and Mama.

    Joyful Mysteries
    1. The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
    2. The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor
    3. The Nativity of Our Lord Fruit of the Mystery: Spirit of Poverty
    4. The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience
    5. The Finding in the Temple Fruit of the Mystery: Zeal for God

    Luminous Mysteries
    1. The Baptism of Jesus Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit
    2. The Marriage at Cana Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary
    3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance and Trust in God
    4. The Transfiguration Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness
    5. The Institution of the Eucharist Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration

    Sorrowful Mysteries
    1. The Agony in the Garden Fruit of the Mystery: Contrition
    2. The Scourging at the Pillar Fruit of the Mystery: Purity
    3. The Crowning with Thorns Fruit of the Mystery: Moral courage
    4. The Carrying of the Cross Fruit of the Mystery: Patience in Adversity
    5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Fruit of the Mystery: Self-denial

    The Glorious Mysteries
    1. The Resurrection of Christ. Fruit of the Mystery:Faith
    2. The Ascension of Jesus. Fruit of the Mystery: Hope
    3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Fruit of the Mystery: Charity
    4. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: The grace of a Happy Death
    5. The Coronation of Blessed Virgin Mary in Heaven. Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in Mary's intercession

  9. Anonymous1:37 PM

    If the person was not saved before death (john3;3)then there is no way they can enter heaven,they will be in hell for eternity.There is no mediator between us and God.Jesus said I am the way

  10. Jesus answered and said to him,
    “Amen, amen I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (John 3;3)
    How does this signify that humans have to be saved before death? If they have to be saved before death, does this indicate that they have to be saved ten years before, 60 years before, or maybe one nanosecond before? If they have to be saved before death, how does this square with Matthew 25 where God comes to judge all the nations?

    “There is no mediator between us and God.” Your words. You back that up by quoting Jesus saying, “I am the way.” You are thereby contradicting your statement, “There is no mediator between us and God” and the statement of Jesus, “I am the way.”
    By saying “I am the way” Jesus Himself makes Himself the Mediator between humans and God. If He is the WAY, then He is not the goal. In fact, if you read a little bit more you will also hear Jesus saying, “No one goes to the Father except through me.” In chapter 15 of John you will also hear Jesus saying that we must remain in Him as He remains in us. That makes us all mediators the ones for the others. There is always the need for an mediator between humans and God. God Himself makes that very point when He scolds the friends of Job,
    “…The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, I am angry with you and your two friends for you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job. Now, therefore, take seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up a holocaust for yourselves and let my servant Job pray for you; for his prayer I will accept, not to punish you severely; for you have not spoken rightly concerning me as my servant job.” Then Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zohar the Naamanthite went and did what the Lord commanded them. And the Lord accepted the intercession of Job. (Job 42; 7 – 9)

    What about the story of Abraham mediating for the people of Gomorrah? God saved a few of them because of Abraham’s prayer, right?
    What about the book of Exodus? Isn’t that an entire story about mediation?
    What about the Gospel story of the centurion with the ailing child?
    What would Saul have done without Ananias? (Acts 9)
    Have you forgotten the story of the sisters of Lazarus interceding for him to Jesus?

    Be careful when you quote the Bible. It is impossible to make a general rule of doctrine by quoting two sentences from the Gospel. The Bible is 72 books of God’s teaching. No one has the right to make sweeping, doctrinal statements depending on two sentences from one of the 72 books. The same holds true for those of you who believe that Scripture has only 66 books…that’s a lot more than just two sentences from one.

  11. Anonymous1:03 PM

    Yikes !! I mean *Right On* !!! The *Rosary* was an early Christian tool to keep Believers in count
    of the Psalms, Praises, and meditations. St. Dominic, was told by the Thrice Blessed Theotokos,***
    Mary, Our Mother,.....because Jesus gave her to us. The separated ones have to keep massaging their ‘egos’. which I feel is one of the reasons that Luther did what he did to begin with .
    Bravo !! Merci !! and Thanks for keeping compassion with the anonymous one !!!
    When I was rebellious with the Protesting I was not anonymous !! I am really Joy-filled,
    that I came back Home !!!
    Bro. Phil

  12. Anonymous2:48 PM

    I am a blessed, highly favored, can't be cursed, Christian. I am saved by the blood of Jesus who died on a cruel cross at Calvary as he took all the sins of the world apon him for us because he loved us so much. I am sanctified, Holy Ghost filled by his power. Living for Jesus. It does state in the bible that in order to get to the Kingdom of God, you must follow the Lord Jesus. God sent his only son to save the world not condemn it. When a person dies, he is "absent from the flesh and present with the Lord". He would have had to accept Jesus into his heart and ask for forgiveness of his sins in life. The Bible says if you reject the Lord Jesus, then the Father will reject you. He stated to go out as fishermen and spread the good word. That Jesus came and abolished the Laws. We celebrate a persons life at there death and funeral, provided they have not rejected HIM. The bible also states even the righteous man falls short of the Glory of God, but if you follow the Lord and to stay in the word ( the Bible), pray and talk to the Lord as a relationship not a religion, minister to others to bring them aboard for salvation, ( remember fisherman). As Christians we do not pray for a dead body's soul, as once they take there last breath they are either in heaven or hell. There is no such thing as purgatory. No mention of that in the Bible at all. I respect that we all love and adore the same God, but following the exact teachings of the Bible is important. I never got a bible when I was a catholic. They stated only certain people were allowed to have it. We as followers of Christ are all saints !!!! You do not pray to anyone other than The Lord God Almighty. We honor mother Mary but do not pray to her. We pray to the Lord directly. We ask for a relationship with him. That is what he want from us and to lead a righteous life. No getting drunk after the be drunk is a sin. I am not saying you can't have a glass of wine but without the intention of getting drunk. All in all have a blessed and wonderful day, yours in Christ

    1. Anonymous6:31 PM

      AMEN!!!!! What he/she is saying is to READ THE BIBLE for yourself! The truth shall set you free!

  13. There are many things to correct from this comment. Go to the Blog Post above Entitled
    "Catholic, who me?"

  14. Anonymous8:19 PM

    a rosary is a summary of the gospel