Prayer Beads
Catholic Prayer Beads

Catholic Prayer Beads

The number of beads in prayers in the Marian Catholic rosary was set in the 16th century. The standard rosary contains 59 beads plus a crucifix. The circle is comprised of 5 "decades," 5 gropus of 10 beads. There are 5 larger beads before each decade.

In order to recite the rosary once, a petitioner must make the sign of the cross, recite 1 Apostle's Creed, 6 Our Father's, 53 Hail Mary's, 6 Glory Be's, 1 Hail Holy Queen, and finish with the sign of the cross while contemplating the Mysteries of the Catholic faith. Frequently Catholics will go through the circle of beads three times, reciting 150 Hail Mary's and contemplating all 15 Mysteries. The 150 Hail Mary's were a substitute for lay people for observing the monastic hours in which all 150 psalms were chanted. The 15 Mysteries were episodes from the lives of Mary and Jesus and functioned as a sumary of the Gospel.

Rosary beads may be made of wood, olive pits, stones (rock crystal, coral, amber, jet), glass, metal (silver, gold), pieces of bone, dried flowers or berries, or plastic. Historically the beads were strung on strong cords with the threads knotted to separate each of the beads. Carmelite monasteries supposedly made beads from rose petals and strung them into rosaries.

Also in this photo are two Catholic prayer beads called chapelets. One of the most common chapelets is the 10-bead chapelet strand (pictured here). It is sometimes called a "hand rosary" or "single decade rosary," but it is properly known as a chapelet. One of these small chapelets in this photo has a medal for St. Joseph, and could certainly be used during devotions to St. Joseph.

I was surprised, however, to learn that St. Joseph has a unique chapelet. It is known as the Chapelet of St. Joseph and is divided into 15 groups of 4 beads, 3 purple beads, and 1 white bead.

Indeed there are a number of specialized Catholic chapelets, including the Chapelet of St. Anthony of Padua, composed of 13 decades with 3 beads per decade.

Anglican Prayer Beads Anglican Prayer Beads

The "Anglican Prayer Beads" are used by Espicopalians in the same manner Orthodox Prayer Rope and the more familar Marian Catholic Rosary. It has 33 beads.. The prayer sequence begins with the cross, then there is a large bead following the cross on the pendant, which is the Invitatory bead -- the invitation to praise and worship. Rather than in "Decades" as in the Marian Rosary, the circle itself comprises four sets of 7 beads called "Weeks" to represent the 7 days of creation, signifing the completness of God. The Weeks are divided by four large beads called "Cruciform" beads representing the cross as the primary symbol of the Anglican faith. The total number of beads is 33--the traditional number of years Jesus resided upon this earth in human form.

Prayer using Anglican Prayer Beads was developed in the 1980s and thus is fairly recent . Espicopalians use prayers such as the Triasgion and the Jesus Prayer. There is another set using the Prayers Julian of Norwich. Some employ excepts from the Psalms and the Book of Common Prayer , but others can be used as well.

There is a standard manner by which on recites the prayer upon the beads. Begin with the Cross, reciting whichever prayer is assciated with it in the set of prayers being used. Then move to the Invitatory bead. Then move to the circle of the prayer beads, reciting the prayer assciated with the Cruciform, and then the prayer associated with the Weeks beads 7 times, etc. It is that suggested a petitioner pray around the circle three times (the number of the Trinity) at a gentle pace, allowing the mind, heart, and soul to be come quiet.

This set of Anglican Prayer Beads came with this suggested set of prayers.

Cross--In the Name of God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

O Lord make speed to save me.
O Lord make haste to save me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in rhe beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

4 Cruciform--
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord

28 Weeks--
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

When completing this devotion:
The Lord's Prayer

I bless the Lord;
Thanks be to God.

Orthodox Prayer Rope

The "Orthodox Prayer Rope" is a looped cord, frequently wool, with knots, which is used to keep track of the number of prayers which have been said--the more familar Marian Catholic Rosery. Typically, it has 100 knots and a knotted cross at one end, and a few beads at certain intervals between the knots (usually every 10 or 25 knots) for ease in counting. (Other numbers of knots are also in use today.) It is usually used with the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

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