Closer to an answer on the mystery rosary!

Thank you all for your suggestions about yesterday’s bizarre rosary with thirteen beads per decade. I think we have an answer.

After googling every combination I could think of trying to guess what it was (Lourdes features the number thirteen…Saint Anthony features almost had to be related to Catholicism or the Orthodox churches because of the pictures) I reversed the process and described the silly thing to Google. black wooden picture rosary

And Google paid off. Check it out on ebay:

It’s got ten beads per decade and different knots, but it’s the same rosary, same pictures, same beads. (And now I know what the crucifix should have looked like. I like my replacement better)

Once I found that, I went searching and found a number of variants on the same rosary. This leads me to believe that somewhere out there is a kit.

Now why thirteen beads per decade? Not sure, but the writer in me comes up with one explanation and the Catholic another.

The Catholic in me says the maker of the rosary modified it for some specific devotion, or because she liked to have separate beads for the Our Father, the Glory Be, the Fatima prayer, and some other in-between prayer. (I insert the St. Michael prayer; I’ve heard others in there as well.)  My own St. Michael chaplet is modified, and if you were to find it in a parking lot, you might wonder why I stuck all those extra beads on the end.

The writer in me came up with a different explanation: someone got the kit, which maybe came with enough beads to make a rosary and fifteen more for a rosary bracelet. Not knowing quite how to do it, maybe because it was for wearing rather than counting, the person set off the five beads for the front, then divided the remaining beads into five parts and strung them without bothering to count.

I’ll probably break off three beads per segment the way blueraindrop suggested, and I’ll burn them just in case the rosary got blessed before the previous owner lost it.

Thanks for sharing in the mystery with me!


  1. xallanthia

    How interesting! I too wonder why 13 in the one you found; I’ll have to ask my husband (who knows a lot more about those things) if he’s heard of a rosary with more than 10 beads per decade. We are Orthodox but he was a High Church Anglican previously and is interested in those kinds of devotions.

    But the real reason I thought I’d comment is that you can toss any potential Orthodox connection clean off the list. Not only do Orthodox not use rosaries the way Catholics do (Orthodox prayer beads are for reciting the Jesus Prayer, generally), but you mentioned that the pictures on the beads include the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart. Those are decidedly Catholic devotions not shared by the Orthodox church. No Orthodox devotional item would include those images (or if it did, well, it would be heretical).

    1. philangelus

      Thank you for clearing that up — I should have realized that on my own. :#) I did look at Orthodox prayer beads, but of course the pictures wouldn’t have any indication of the way they were used.