A Moving Prayer: The Poetic and Theological Ductus of the Rosary

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0003-3385-7599
Nichols, Molly, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Fowler, Elizabeth, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia

No prayer is so tightly entangled in the public and private identity of Catholicism as the rosary. Although numerous factors – its catechetical potential and the intense Marian piety of the medieval period, for instance – certainly drove the devotion’s sustained popularity over the centuries, these external influences should not completely eclipse the role that the rosary’s own “formal arrangements” play in the prayer’s effectiveness and power. Incorporating Mary Carruthers and Elizabeth Fowler’s work on ductus in rhetoric, art, and architecture, as well as Jean-Luc Chrétien’s phenomenology of prayer, this paper explores the ways in which both the physical apparatus of the rosary (i.e., prayer beads) and the poetry of the prayers themselves contribute to the intrinsic ductus of the rosary devotion. Such attention to these “formal elements” reveals how the rosary compels its devotees to pray, habituates their loving dependence on divine assistance, and inculcates within them an individual presence in the collective body of Christian believers that stands in relationship with God.

MA (Master of Arts)
rosary, prayer, ductus, phenomenology, medieval
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