Although not particularly popular now, devotion to the Seven Joys of Mary was quite common in the Medieval Church. The Joys of Mary are mentioned several times in ancient literature. However, there is a dispute over the number. There would be anywhere from five to fifteen Joys of Mary. The number seven was eventually settled upon partly so the devotion could be a good parallel to the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
Also, this number has traditionally been recognized by the Franciscans. In 1422, a young Franciscan novice named James was considering abandoning his vocation. Before entering the friary, he had daily brought a crown of flowers to the Blessed Virgin. He wanted to leave the friary because, upon his entrance, he was no longer able to get fresh flowers. Mary appeared to him and told him to stay in the friary and to daily weave a crown that would be more pleasing to her. She taught him to pray the Seraphic Rosary which consists of seven decades in honor of her seven joys. This rosary is now known as the Franciscan Crown.
The Seven Joys of Mary are:
1. The Annunciation
The first joy of Mary took place when the archangel Gabriel appeared to her and announced that she would be the Mother of God (Luke 1:26-38).
2. The Visitation
Luke 1:39-56 tells of how Mary hurried to the house of Zachariah in order to be with her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Verses 46-55 are known as the Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat.
3. The Birth of Jesus
The third joy of May was the Nativity or the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7).
4. The Adoration of the Magi
The Adoration of the Magi or Epiphany is laid out in Matthew 2:9-11. In the Catholic Church, the feast of Epiphany is celebrated on January 6.
5. The Finding of the Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple
The fifth joy of Mary was the finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple after being separated from Him for three days (Luke 2:46-51). The third sorrow of Mary was the loss of the Child Jesus.
6. The Resurrection of Jesus
There is an ancient story that, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to His mother before appearing to anybody else. Although there is no evidence of this in Scripture, it is still a lovely, and believable, story.
7. The Assumption of Mary and Her Heavenly Coronation
The seventh and final joy of Mary took place when she was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven and was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth (Revelation 12:1).
Some people may be familiar with the Seven Joys of Mary because of an old Christmas carol of the same name. However, the joys laid out in this song are different from the joys of the Seraphic Rosary. Also, there are two different versions of the song, each with a different set of joys.
Sources: National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi online article “The Franciscan Crown and the Rosary”
New American Translation of the Holy Bible