Luminous Mysteries, Mysteries of Light, rosary rosaries

The Luminous Mysteries

(The Mysteries of Light)

On October 16th, John Paul II marked the 24th anniversary of his pontificate with the proclamation of the Year of the Rosary, and the publication of an apostolic letter on the Marian prayer.  The greatest novelty in John Paul II's new apostolic letter on the rosary is the proposal to include five additional mysteries in the Marian prayer.

Explaining his decision in "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary), the Pope describes the rosary as a "compendium of the Gospel" oriented to the "contemplation of Christ's face" through Mary's eyes and the repetition of the Hail Mary."  Up until now, the 15 mysteries of the rosary -- the joyful, sorrowful and glorious -- lacked decisive moments in Christ's public life, the Pope explains.

Because of this, the Pope says in No. 19 of the apostolic letter that "while left to the freedom of individuals and communities," he suggests the inclusion of "the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion."  John Paul II explains that he calls them "the mysteries of light" because Christ in his public life manifests himself as the "mystery of light":

'While I am in the world, I am the light of the world' 
(John 9:5).

No. 21 of the new document articulates the five "mysteries of light" of Jesus' public life, and explains the mystery that the Christian contemplates in each one of these passages:

(1) His baptism in the Jordan,

(2) His self-manifestation at the wedding at Cana,

(3) His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion,

(4) His transfiguration, and finally,

(5) His institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the paschal mystery.

Additional information is described in the paragraphs that follow.


The Luminous Mysteries

Beginning of His public life

"The Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light," the Pope writes. "Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became 'sin' for our sake (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Matthew 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out."

His self manifestation

Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (see John 2:1- 12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers," the apostolic letter adds.

The Call to Conversion

"Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mark 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mark 2:3-13; Luke 7:47-48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church (cf. John 20:22-23)," the document continues.

Revelation of His glory

Explaining the fourth "mystery of light," the Holy Father continues: "The mystery of light par excellence is the Transfiguration, traditionally believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished Apostles to 'listen to him' (cf. Luke 9:35 and parallels) and to prepare to experience with him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit.

Sacramental expression

of the Paschal Mystery

"A final mystery of light is the institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies 'to the end' his love for humanity (John 13:1), for whose salvation he will offer himself in sacrifice."


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