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Stephen of Sawley's Meditations on Our Lady's Joys & the Medieval History of the Rosary

Stephen of Sawley's treatise on Our Lady's Joys has occasionally been made remarked upon for its formal likeness to the rosary; it is divided into fifteen joys, most of which are also mysteries of the rosary, and it prescribes repetition of the Ave Maria. This article supports this association but also seeks to go further, arguing that Stephen's meditations resonate with the rosary at a deeper level, as catechetical tools that use affective prayer to promote orthodox doctrine on the Incarnation and Mary's place in the economy of salvation. On both levels, content as well as form, the article argues, Stephen's treatise is an important antecedent to the rosary and brings much-needed weight to the argument that Cistercian monasticism was part of the confluence of traditions from which it emerged.

This article was published in Cistercian Studies Quarterly 50.4 (2015), pp. 423-439. To order a copy, visit:


  • Hirsh, John C., 'The twenty-five joys of our lady an English Marian Rosary of the fifteenth century from Bodleian Library MS Don. D. 85', Traditio 71 (2016), pp. 333-342.

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