Monday, October 8, 2012

Christian Prayer Beads (Part 2)

Murano Glass Rosary
Photo Credit: Musings from a Catholic Bookstore
 by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Orthodox Practices (cont.)
Today, Greek Orthodox Christians carry woolen kombologion (“100 knots on cords”) prayer ropes with 33, 50, or 100 knots. Russian believers carry chotkis (“chaplets”), veritza (“string”), or lievstoka (“ladder”), each made of 103 beads. On the ladder strings, the beads run parallel to one another, symbolizing Jacob’s ladder of angels, meant to inspire the spiritual climb “toward greater devotion and virtue.” {Britannica}

Early Catholic Prayer Beads
St. Benedict is credited for the institution of the Catholic rosary in the 4th century A.D. He taught his order of monks to pray all 150 Psalms every week. Though it would be more than 1,000 years before the Papacy would officially sanction the use of beads to count prayers, faithful monks throughout the ensuing centuries would count their recitation of the Pslams on beads made from coral, ivory, gemstones, precious metals, wood, clay, and eventually Venetian and Murano glass.

Eventually, the practice of the rosary was adopted by laymen, many of whom did not know how to read or speak Latin. It was granted that these men and women could substitute one recitation of the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father”) for one Psalm. This practice of reciting 150 “Our Fathers” each day became known as the “Pater Noster Psalter.” So popular was its practice that use of the word “pitter-patter” came into popularity to describe the sound of the prayer beads clacking together with the recitation of the Paters.

Jump to Part 3
1. Encylopedia Britannica Online. “Rosary.” Accessed October 20, 2012.
2. Laning, Chris. “Historical Rosary and Paternoster Beads.” Paternoster-Row website, 2007-2009.
3. Museum of Anthropology. University of Missouri. “Prayer Beads: A Cultural Experience.” Copyright 2011. Last updated October 22, 2012.
4. Prayer Beads World (website). “Prayer Beads in Islam.” Copyright 2008. Accessed October 22, 2012.
5. Roman, Alexander. To Bead or Knot to Bead: Some Historical Considerations. As found on Chotkis website on October 22, 2012.
6. Rosarium, The. “About” Accessed October 22, 2012.
7. Rosary Workshop. “Journaling the Bead: A History of the Rosary.” Accessed October 20, 2012.
8. Winston, Kimberly.  Bead One, Pray Too. New York: Moorehouse Publishing, 2008.

*Clip-art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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