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Christianity, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, has adopted the prayer strand, usually called a rosary. There are several different forms, but the most common is the lesser Dominican, with five groups of ten small ave beads separated by larger or distinctive paternosters.

It is piously believed that St. Dominic introduced the rosary after being given one by an apparition of the Virgin Mary, but even the Catholic Encyclopedia affirms that there is no historical basis for that idea.

Olivewood rosary, Jerusalem, Donor Jürgen Busch.

The rosary most likely found its way to Europe and thus Christianity through contact with Muslim prayer strands during the Crusades.

Rosary of faceted glass beads and silver-washed cross. Made in Italy.

Donor Mini Goldie.

A rosary that is not a strand of beads. This is a silver ring rosary, made in Mexico. The ten "ave beads" say

               + A V E + M A R I A

the first two words of the prayer said on those beads. The large "bead" is the paternoster, where "Our Father" is recited.

Bought in the National Pawn Shop, Mexico City 1994.

Yes, Virginia, rosaries really do come from heaven.

This extraordinary painting is in the Capella del Rosario (Rosary Chapel) in Puebla, Mexico. Mary, Jesus and all the angels hold rosaries.
The priest on the right
is distributing a pile of them to other angels, who in turn are giving them to people, apparently in purgatory. Ranks of bishops, nuns, priests and conquistadors fill the ground around the altar.

Reference: W.A. Hinnebusch 1967 Rosary, pp. 667-70 New Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. XII, McGraw-Hill, New York.

 Hindu and Buddhist


Roman Catholic

Eastern Orthodox and Baha'i


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