Hey, look what I found!

I sold books at my parish craft fair this weekend, which is kind of exciting but not the most exciting thing. You see, when you sell at a craft fair, you’re there before they open, and you can browse.

This was my table, by the way:

booktableI ended up at Le Table Of Donated Junk and immediately my eyes alighted on a pink notebook. Not my color, but I snatched it up because guess what? Handmade paper. I know what those sell for.

Me: How much is this?

Them: I dunno. A dollar?

I explained to them that they could get a lot more for that. They told me to buy it instead. I said, “Why don’t you just mark it up, and if no one buys it, I’ll come back and buy it later?” They insisted, so I bought it (for $3, I think) and then Kiddo#2 promptly laid claim to it and I will never write in that hand-made notebook. C’est la guerre.

I wandered over to another table, which was the religious leftovers, things people had given Father G. because he’s a priest and Great Grandma had this religious stuff no one wanted after she died (but which they had little qualms about throwing out.) There was a long row of rosaries, and one immediately caught my eye.

I love heavy rosaries. I want a rosary that feels like you’re holding it, not those flimsy plastic things. This one? I think it weighs ten pounds. Well, not really, but the beads look like marble and it’s about three feet long. I shoved five bucks in the donation jar and walked off with a marble rosary. I came back later and left two more because I felt like maybe they deserved it.

Hah. This is God saying, “Jane, you have no clue.”

I’m not one for expensive rosaries. Mom and I used to joke all the time, “Oh yeah, God listens to you more if you pray on an expensive rosary,” the same way we used to joke that you got more graces if you pushed to the front of the Communion line. I get it: nice things are nice, but it always seemed at odds to me to pray about humility and charity on what’s effectively a counting device that cost as much as a month’s groceries. (I’ve felt the same about Bibles that cost a hundred bucks — really? My $5 paperback is the same Word of God.) So most of my rosaries have been of the 40-cent variety, but I have a couple of nice ones that are about $15 to $20.

On Sunday night while we were praying the rosary together, I noticed the rosary was wire-wrapped. Hmm. Moreover, it was wire-wrapped the way handmade rosaries are. Oh. And it’s really, really silvery. Oh dear. I’ve seen those before.

If you google “handmade wire-wrapped rosaries,” you’ll find a lot of interesting things.

You’ll find, for example, that some artisans figure hey, as long as they’re taking hours upon hours to hand-wrap fifty-nine beads, they’re going to use sterling silver wire and semiprecious stones, and then they’ll call them herilooms and charge hundreds of dollars. I ended up at Robert’s Heriloom Rosaries website and discovered how his rosaries, which do cost in that range, look just like the one on the desk beside me. Check out this beauty.

The one in my hands here is a little work of art. It’s the same style as the above and it’s the same length. It may be worth hundreds of dollars. How can I keep that? How can I keep it for only $7?


I wrote to the parish priest. I asked if he wants it back. I asked if he wants to track down the original donors and find out if they really meant to give away something meant to be an heirloom. He’s probably going to say no. He’s probably not going to say to pay what it’s worth, something I’d never have done in the first place.

I went to the craft fair to sell books, and I came home with art.


  1. Louise

    The rosary is beautiful. I think you did the right thing contacting the priest. If he tells you to keep it, then you can enjoy it, counting it as a gift from God (or maybe Mary)

  2. Pat D

    The parish is ahead $7 because you bought the rosary. If it had been priced what it’s supposed to be worth, probably no one would have bought it, and the parish would be ahead $0.

  3. Marajoy

    Maybe if the parish (or some other religious group) has an annual fancy-ish dinner silent auction-thing, you could donate it to that?

  4. Lorraine E. Castro

    This particular rosary was intended for you which is why you have it. God works in mysterious ways. He knows you will cherish this rosary and use it with all the reverence and dedication the maker intended.

  5. seschoen

    You value it more than others who might have bought it, and will put it to good use. That might be to pray with it yourself, or to gift it to someone who will pray differently because of it, or sell it and donate the money, or something we haven’t thought of yet.

    You’ve rescued it from a lifetime of bazaar tables. Now it can do some good.

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