Priest's rosary 3: as seen from the back.

     Ordinarily such a large crucifix would provide a lot of space on the back for an engraved message, but that is not the case here because of the slump in the center of the cross. The slump is formed as the molten metal hardens and contracts as it cools in the mold.

     The back of the centerpiece shows a descending dove and a sunburst of seven rays, showing the descent of the Holy Spirit and his seven-fold gifts (Isaiah 11:2-3). The Latin words around the top of the medallion are "Veni Creator Spiritus" (Come Creator Spirit). Together with the image on the front of the Father reconciling His prodigal son to Himself, this image of the Holy Spirit recalls Christ's words to the apostles, "When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (John 20:22-23).


Priest's rosary 2: with Paters and links aligned

All the beads are strung on lengths of heavy (18 gauge) craft wire, and the loops which link each bead to the next are closed with wire wraps. On either side of each howlite bead is a wrapped wire bow which links it to the rest of the rosary and helps define it as an Our-Father bead. The way the howlite Our-Fathers contrast with the black onyx Hail-Marys reminds me of how the white Roman collar contrasting with the black clerical suit identifies priests. On either side of each howlite bead, is a wrapped wire bow which links it, but also provides distance and definition. All the wire is 18 gauge, all links use wrapped wire loops, and wrapped wire bows connect the crucifix and centerpiece and separate the Our-Fathers from the decades of Hail-Marys, providing for a very sturdy and durable rosary.

a rosary for the Year of the Priest

This rosary started with a large crucifix SCX330 from Catholic Prayer Cards showing Christ our High Priest offering Himself on the Cross to His Father for our sakes (Hebrews 3:1). The cross is 2.75 inches tall. The centerpiece, from Our Lady's Rosary Makers (OLRM #595) is seven eighths of an inch (0.875") long and half an inch wide. The centerpiece is based on a detail from "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt showing the Father welcoming back His wayward son (Luke 15:11-42). The crucifix and centerpiece are made of white base metal, probably nickel-silver, and heavy (18 gauge) nickel-silver craft wire is used throughout. The Hail-Mary beads are 8mm rounds of black onyx and the Our Father beads are 10mm howlite rounds. I got the craft wire, onyx and howlite at JSM Bead Coop.

This is a large rosary. The circlet is 42 inches around; the drop is about 9.5 inches from the top of the centerpiece to the bottom of the crucifix. From the middle of the third decade to the bottom of the crucifix, the rosary is 30.5 inches long. It has a heavy and substantial feel.


amethyst dyed Mexican onyx - after

The original beads had a large center hole, and were shaped somewhat like donuts. I found some similarly colored pressed glass beads that were "flying saucer" shaped, close enough in shape, though not a perfect match. They were as big, or slightly bigger than the largest of the remaining original beads. I would call the color of the new beads "vanilla/raspberry-swirl." I chose some cathedral beads in the same white/purple glass for the Our-Father beads.

I had almost enough original beads for all the Hail-Mary beads on the circlet, so I put 3 of the new Hail-Mary beads on the drop and then sorted the original beads by width, graduating the beads from the largest, near the centerpiece, to the smallest, on the opposite side of the circlet. The only new Hail-Mary bead on circlet could then be placed just on the other side of the centerpiece from the largest original bead, where it blends in very well.

I strung each of the original beads on top of 4 #15 silver-lined crystal seed beads. This was to fill the large hole in the donut-shaped beads, keeping the bead centered on the beading cable, and limiting the amount of wobble, to which the bead is subject. I added the centerpiece. I don't think the original ever had one. I used a nickel-silver Fatima centerpiece from Our Lady's Rosary Makers. I made a wrapped-wire bail for the cross from 18 gauge nickel-silver craft wire.

amethyst dyed Mexican onyx

The owner brought this to me to restore if I could. She had had it for many years, and it had great sentimental value for her. Originally it had been a standard 5 decade ["Dominican"] rosary. The same beads were use for the Our-Father and the Hail-Mary beads. Only a long separation between the Our-Father beads and the Hail-Mary beads distinguished them. Silver-lined bugle beads and #7 silver-lined seed beads separated the OFs from the HMs. Within the decades, the Hail-Mary beads were separated from each other by a single #7 silver-lined seed bead. Of the original 59 beads, only 49 remained. of the original seed beads and bugles less than half remained and they had lost most of the original silver lining. The beads were strung on a single strand of clear mono-filament fishing line, which was brittle with age. The beads varied somewhat in length and diameter. They seemed to be carved from Mexican onyx, and were dyed an amethyst shade of purple. There was a simple cross carved of the same substance. There was no centerpiece.

The owner asked me to keep as much of the remaining parts as I could, and fill in as needed.


Stabat Mater dolorosa

I bought these beads at JSM Bead Coop. They are a dark purple fiber-optic (cat's-eye) bead. These are the same color and kind of bead as were in a rosary I re-worked for the owner some time ago. I was so pleased with how that one came out that I thought I would try to replicate it from scratch (except that the original used bead-caps on all the beads, and I thought it would look better without them). I re-worked the original rosary using 21 and 18 gauge sterling silver wire. I started to use the same wire on the replica I was trying to make, but I began making mistakes, and wasting expensive wire. I had let too much time go by without practicing my wire skills. I decided to use base metal for this rosary and to use it as a opportunity to practice those wire skills. I used 20-gauge nickel-silver wire for the Hail-Mary beads, but I didn't have 18-gauge nickel-silver wire for Our-Father beads and bows, but I did have non-tarnishing brass wire in that gauge. I thought that since this is "just a practice" rosary, I wouldn't buy a new spool for it, but just use up the wire I had. It turns out that the contrasting colors adds something special to the appearance of this rosary.

Despite being brand new, this rosary gives a sense of age, as if it might have been handed down from someone's great-grandparents, perhaps because of its dark cast, substantial weight and sturdy construction. The construction is, in fact, very sturdy. It may not have come from someone's great-grandparents, but it may be handed down to someone's great grandchildren.

The wire and beads come from the Bead Coop, the centerpiece is from Ave Maria's Circle, and the crucifix from Our Lady's Rosary Makers.