Praying to Saints and Folk Magic: Beads for the Dead

There are several different types of prayer beads to honor, bless, or comfort the dead. Apparently, there is no official dogma outlining one specific configuration of beads and the associated prayers, but there are several recognized traditions.

It is a great act of charity and kindness to pray for the dead. The souls of the deceased will not forget the prayers said on their behalf and it is believed that the dead will repay whoever prays for them a thousandfold.

The devotions for the dead may be recited either with or without the beads. The prayer beads simply make keeping count of the recited prayers easier.

Different types of configurations of Beads for the Dead are associated with different prayers. For example, the recitation of "All Souls Rosary" is performed on a standard Marian Catholic rosary. However, there are a whole set of prayers involved in the recitation of the "All Souls Rosary" that are not used in the standard recitation of the Marian rosary. (See "Rosary of the Souls" or "All Souls Rosary" below.)

This brief article focuses on four forms of the Beads for the Dead:

1. "Chaplet of the Comfort (for the Dead)"
2. "Chaplet of the Dead"
3. "Rosary of the Souls" or "All Souls Rosary"
4. "Holy Souls Rosary"
1. Chaplet of the Comfort (for the Dead)

Usually, the "Chaplet of the Comfort (for the Dead)" is composed of 1 Crucifix, 1 large, red bead, and 30 white beads, which means a total of 31 beads. As indicated, state whoever the prayer is for in the indicated spot.

These prayers are petitions to comfort the deceased souls.

To recite the Chaplet of the Comfort, the petitioner makes the sign of the cross.

On the Crucifix, he or she begins by reciting 1 Our Father.

On the large, red bead, he or she recites the following prayer:

Merciful Jesus, we humbly recall in prayer, the soul(s) of name or names , whom you have called to their eternal home. Grant name or names eternal life and peace. Amen.
Then on each of the 30 white beads, he or she prays:
Lord, grant name or names eternal rest and peace.
At the conclusion of the recitation of the Chaplet of the Comfort for the Dead, he or she recites the following prayer and then makes the sign of the cross:
We thank you Lord for listening to our simple prayers offered for the soul(s) of name or names . May name or names pray for us as we for them. Grant this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
The Chaplet of Comfort could be recited for either a specific soul or a large group of souls. For example:
Merciful Jesus, we humbly recall in prayer, the soul of Cecilia Vassallo, whom you have called to her eternal home. Grant Cecilia eternal life and peace. Amen.
However, if one was praying for for a number of people who died in a natural disaster or catastrophic event such as the earthquake during January 2010 in Haiti, one would adapt the prayer recited on the 1 large, red bead like so:
Merciful Jesus, we humbly recall in prayer, all the souls of those died due to the earthquake in January 2010 in Haiti whom you have called to their eternal home. Grant to those numerous souls in Haiti eternal life and peace. Amen.
Chaplet of Comfort (for the Dead) Examples

The Catholic Store
http://www.catholicstore.com/browseproducts/Chaplet-Of-Comfort-For-The-Dead.html

Prospect Hill
http://prospecthillco.com/Merchant4/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=P&Product_Code=030&Category_Code=

2. Chaplet for the Dead

Frequently, the "Chaplet for the Dead" consists of 48 beads. It begins with the Crucifix, 5 introductory beads, 4 sets of 10 beads, separated by 3 beads. Originally, this Chaplet did not have a medal, but the examples of the Chaplets for the Dead which I found all had medals.

There is no specialized form of reciting the Chaplet for the Dead.

Instructions advise that one begins and ends this chaplet with the Our Father and Hail Mary or the "De Profundis".

Instructions also advise that one should recite the following on the large beads, "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them; may the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen." And the instructions likewise state that one should recite the following on the small beads, "Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation."

The following form is suggested as being one that is simple with this configuration of prayer beads.

The petitioner praying this devotion on behalf of the dead begins this Chaplet on the Crucifix by reciting Psalm 130, also known as the "De Profundis":

Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt observe iniquities; Lord, who shall endure it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness:
and by reason of Thy law, I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word; my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him plentiful redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all her iniquities. Amen.
Then, there are 5 introductory beads: 1 large bead, 3 small beads, 1 large bead. On each large bead, the person prays:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them; may the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
On each small bead, the person prays:
Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.
The petitioner begins and ends the 43 bead circle of this chaplet on the medal by reciting 1 Our Father and 1 Hail Mary. Then, there are 40 small beads separated by 3 large beads. On each large bead, the person prays:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them; may the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
On each small bead, the petitioner prays:
Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.
The petitioner concludes the 43 bead circle of this chaplet on the medal by reciting 1 Our Father and 1 Hail Mary, adding the following prayer:
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful,
grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that through our pious supplication they may obtain that pardon which they have always desired; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
In this case, the person praying is not petitioning for anything for him or herself. This set of prayers is a petition on behalf of the dead as well as a devotion to God, and the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix.

Some suggested forms of prayers did also state that a person could name a specific group of people in one's intentions, such as at the beginning of the chaplet. "These prayers are particularly for those who perished in the earthquake in Chile during February 2010." It was also suggested one could insert a particular deceased individual's name during prayer. For example:

Eternal rest grant unto my grandmother, Lee Long, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon her; may the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Chaplet for the Dead Examples

Via Rose
www.viarosa.com/VR/AllSouls/Rosaries+Chaplets.html#ChapletForTheDead

Rosary And Chaplets
www.rosaryandchaplets.com/chaplets/chaplet_for_the_dead.html
(Oddly, all the beads on this one are the same size, but the total count is 48 beads.)

Gardenias 4 Lina
www.gardenias4lina.com/Chaplet_for_the_Dead.html

3. Rosary for the Souls or All Souls Rosary

The devotion below, The Chaplet or Rosary for the Souls: Thoughts and Prayers for Our Beloved Dead is something I found on a handout back in late fall 2016. I am a nototrious pack rat, and in March 2017 I re-found it stashed away in some papers in my house, all folded, creased and tattered.

Clearly, the person who put together the handout assumed that whoever read it would be familiar with the words of certain prayers mentioned, such as the De Profundis, Pater, Ave, and Gloria Patri. I am guessing the person who put together the handout also omitted certain obvious directions. Originally, it was not clear to me if this devotion is performed on a special chaplet or a standard rosary. I have rescently verified that the devotion on this handout does use the standard five decade rosary, which contains 59 beads, plus a crucifix---and so it is not said on a chaplet with a different bead count. (I am not sure why the handout had the word, "chaplet," in the title.)

I have also surmized that this devotion was probably intended to be used on All Souls Day (November 2), and therefore it is one of the forms of the “Rosary for the Souls” or “All Souls Rosary.” In spite of using the Latin names for some of the prayers, I am guessing that the whole thing is recited in English.

The devotion is begun with on the crucifix with De Profundis. De Profundis is frequently used as a prayer for the dead in the Christian Western liturgical tradition. Indeed, this same prayer is found in the “Chaplet for the Dead.”  It is a Psalm of deep sorrow, and it is one of the “Penitential Psalms.”

In the Catholic Latin Vulgate, De Profundis is referenced as “Psalmus 129 (130).” In English, it is known as Psalm 130, Out of the Depths or From the Depths. The text for this same prayer is found in the the devotion for the “Chaplet for the Dead” above.

The Chaplet or Rosary for the Souls:
Thoughts and Prayers for Our Beloved Dead

It is a holy and pious thought to pray for the dead, so that they might be delivered from all iniquities. With the Lord is plenteous redemption.

To each prayer, you may add:

“I pray for the poor souls of the dead. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen. ”

On the Cross, begin with De Profundis .

Add:  

“O Jesus, you suffered and died that all mankind might be saved. Amen.”

Recite a Pater, Ave, and Gloria Patri.

On the Large Beads pray for Faith, Hope, and Charity:

Act of Faith:

“My God, I believe that you are One God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your Divine Son became human, died for the salvation of the living and the dead. Amen.”

Act of Hope:

“My God, my hope is in you, and life everlasting, through the blessings of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.”

Act of Charity:

“My God, I love you with all my heart, I rely on your almighty power and infinite love and mercy, the love of the saints, and your grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. Amen.”

On small beads, add:

“Sweet Heart of Mary, be our salvation. Amen.”

At the End:

“May the prayers of the faithful, O Lord, benefit the souls of your departed servants, and through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you will deliver them from all  iniquities, and make them to be partake in redemption of eternal life. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

“Saint Joseph, model and patron of the Holy Death, pray for us. May the love of God and the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ bless us and console us and gently wipe every tear from our eyes. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, Inc. What Are the Different Types of Rosaries? copyright 2004, 2017.

4. Holy Souls Rosary

I just recently discovered information on a Sicilian folk tradition involving praying for the dead for 8 days (an octave) from November 2 -10. November 2 marks the Catholic feast of All Souls Day, aka festa dei morti (feast of the dead).  This devotion is known officially in Italian as the Commemorazione di Tutti i Fideli Defunti (Commemoration of All Deceased Faithful).  

These prayers can be counted on the standard five decade rosary, which contains 59 beads, plus a crucifix, by reciting one posta for each of the large beads, and one grani  for each of the small beads. This set of prayers derive from Sicilian oral tradition. It was originally transcribed and published by Sara Favaro in A Cruna: Antologia di Rosari Siciliani.

It is possible that the person who posted this information may have omitted certain obvious directions. (For example, the person reciting these prayers might also recite the Credo on the crucifix—even though that prayer is not mentioned.)

These prayers are provided below in English and in Siciliano.

This devotion can be found in Sicilian oral tradition. It was originally transcribed and published by Sara Favaro in A cruna. Antologia di rosari siciliani , 2008.

English:

(Posta)

By the seven beatings
that our Lord suffered,
by the twisted nails,
Holy Souls: be cooled.
Holy Souls, Holy Souls,
I am one, you are many.
By our prayer,
take away from me this confusion.
When you ascend to heaven,
pray for us sinners.
Soul in heaven and body in earth,
eternal peace.

(Grani)  

Holy Souls and true saints,
merciful Holy Souls,
and Maria by her goodness,
Holy Souls: be cooled.

Siciliano

(Posta)

Per li setti battitura
chi patì nostru Signuri
pi li chiova arribuccati
Armuzzi Santi, arrifriscati.
Armi Santi, Armi Santi
iò sugnu sula vui siti tanti
pi la nostra orazioni
livatimilla ‘sta cunfusioni.
Quannu vui ‘n celu acchianati
pi nui piccatura priati
arma ‘n celu e corpu ‘n terra
recam eterna.

(Grani)

Armi Santi e santi veri
Armuzzi Santi miserere
e Maria pi so buntati
Armuzzi Santi arrifriscati.

From A Rosary for the Dead on All Souls’ Day (Nov 2) posted on October 30, 2016, accessed on 7/17/17.

copyright 2010, 2017 Myth Woodling, "Rosary for the Souls" or "All Souls Rosary," 2017.

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