Popular Culture / Rosary of Vows to the Virgin and the Saints
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The promise
The "Rosary of Vows to the Virgin and the Saints" is a folk version of the rosary. As part of this tradition, the faithful makes a request to the saint of his devotion and promises that if the request is granted, he will pray a specific number of rosaries. If the favor is granted, the person must fulfill his promise.

The promise is fulfilled on the eve of the day of the saint to whom the complete rosary is prayed. Certain preparations are made for this ceremony. Musicians — who usually play the cuatro, the guitar and the güiro — and singers are arranged. Next, a person is identified to lead the rosary and is called the cantaor and other groups are selected to participate in the first and second choruses. In the afternoon of the day the rosary will be prayed, an altar is prepared. Once it is set up, it becomes a sacred space. Dishes of traditional foods are prepared for the event, including sweets and pudding. No alcoholic beverages are served, although the cantaor may take a little rum with honey to keep his voice clear for the canticle of the rosary. Finally, gifts are prepared for the invited guests.

At nightfall, the first rosary, of the Joyful Mysteries, is sung; between midnight and one in the morning, the Sorrowful Mysteries are sung; and between five and six in the morning, the Glorious Mysteries. Between each rosary, traditional religious carols are sung, along with songs to the saint. At the end of the dawn rosary, the altar is disassembled. If the family can afford it, a dance is held until the afternoon. Thus the rosary can last as long as twenty-four hours: from setting up the altar until the last guest leaves the dance.

The ritual aspect of the rosary of vows is different from the rosary to the Virgin. Instead of praying ten Hail Marys, one prayer is said for the saint to whom the vow is made. The Hail Mary is said immediately after the Our Father. The order is as follows (P, prayer leader; c, chorus):

P Hail Holy Mary,
C conceived without sin.

P Meditation on the mystery.

P Our Father…
C Our daily bread…

P God bless you, Mary…
C Holy Mary…

P What is that which shines
Under the bell tower,
C it is neither star, nor light,
It is the Virgin of the Rosary.
(Repeated ten times)

P Glory…
C As it was…

P Mother Mary…
C in life…


The specific prayer that replaces the ten Hail Marys is popularly called "the word." In addition to this difference, a round of prayers and "joys" or folk litany is added, after the regular litany, to this folk form of the rosary. The folk litany is supposed to replace the Latin litany. The prayers in this section are: the Praise; the Celestial Voice has Spoken; We give Thanks; God Soothe Your Anger; Holy God and Holy Strength; and Blessed be Your Purity.

The round of prayers consists of an offering and a series of petitions to the saints depending on the needs of the family that has dedicated the rosary. These petitions are supported by an undefined number of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, and a Creed. This ends the round of prayers.

This folk version of the rosary is only conducted in the homes of believers and is not part of the official rites of the Catholic Church.

Reference:

Escabí Agostini, Pedro. El Rosario: vista parcial del folklore de Puerto Rico. 2ª edición. Ponce, P. R.: Centro de Investigaciones Folklóricas de Puerto Rico, Casa Paoli, 2002. Impreso.




Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: August 29, 2014.

Version: 10082902 Rev. 1
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