This piece, a large wooden rosary, is one of two I have. It hangs about 1.52 mtrs/6′ from top to bottom when hanging, say, from a hook to the tip of the crucifix. Each bead is about 2.3cm/1″ long and the crucifix is about 18cm/7″. Yes, greatly oversized.
The English word bead derives from the Old English noun bede which means a prayer (via Wiki)
Nicely weathered and rustic you can see the metal chain links have rusted as has the INRI scroll and little nails attaching Jesus to the cross.
Growing up in an Australian Catholic family meant rosary beads and the rosary (prayers) with its many ‘Mysteries’ including the mystery of 8 siblings (7 younger)!
Sometimes it was the Joyful Mysteries, sometimes the Sorrowful, sometimes the Glorious Mysteries. Sometimes it was all the Mysteries at once along with other mysteries in our household!
The mystery of the rosary and the Mysteries of the rosary were a quintessential part of my life.
All that prayer, praying to Our Lady, to Mary, all those Hail Marys, Glory Be’s and Our Fathers, brought us together as a family, as a Catholic community in prayer and meditation, as students at our local Convent school and worshippers at our local churches, our main one being St. Aloysius at Sevenhill.
Back then it was a matter of conscience and faith that I, a young girl, was Catholic. I kept my little rosary with me.
In those days we wore scapulas. Remember? Later, when I had a car, I never hung my rosary on the rear view mirror like others did. Remember? Instead, I had the St. Christopher medal in the car.
. . . and how times have changed . . .
Common sense suggests that some simple device is desirable for counting prayers if they are many or recited in groupings of a certain number. So it is that adherents of many religions besides the One True Faith use devices, including sets of beads, to help them keep track of prayers or acts of worship. In Christianity, monks and hermits of the earliest years would gather pebbles and then toss them away, one by one, as they said each prayer or made each genuflection or Sign of the Cross. Later, strings of beads, berries, bone discs, pebbles or knots were employed. The very word “bead” reflects this. It is derived from the Old English word for prayer.
Many religions developed ways of counting prayers and devotions including pebbles and stones. Having some device as a method of counting prayers is not peculiar to Catholicism Think WWI battle beads, the battle rosary or combat rosary
Prayer beads are used by members of various religious traditions such as Hinduism; Buddhism; Shintoism; Umbanda; some Christian faiths, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Episcopalianism; Islam; Sikhism; and the Baháʼí Faith to mark the repetitions of prayers, chants, or mantras. Common forms of beaded devotion include the Chotki of Greek Christianity, the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Latin Christianity, the dhikr (remembrance of God) in Islam, the Jaap maala in Buddhism and Hinduism, Jaap sahib of Sikhism.