Damn you, Etsy!
I absolutely love this rosary; growing up in a part of the country with a strong Mexican influence, I’ve always loved Virgen de Guadalupe iconography and Dia de los Muertos imagery. The seller customized it for me with white stone skull beads instead of blue. And the beads look red in this photo, but in actuality they’re a lovely dark pink.
Shop: Artista Muerta. She does a lot of different kinds of jewelry, not all of it religious, and I want ALL of it.
This is an Irish penal rosary (Irish name: An Paidrín Beag). The original design dates to the time of the Irish penal laws (harshest under the Stuarts and Cromwell), when England tried force Ireland to accept the Anglican Church. Any form of Catholic worship–like praying the rosary–was against the law. (Protestant dissenters such as Presbyterians also ran afoul of the laws.) The single decade was easy to hide in a sleeve, and the prayer kept track of them by moving the ring from finger to finger. (A full rosary is 5 decades, each decade is 10 Hail Marys.) Often they didn’t use a crucifix on the end but a subtler symbol of Jesus, like a carpenter’s nail or a fish.
I love the unusual square beads, the mottled blue-green coloring, and the primitive crucifix. I like crucifixes that are neither too elaborate, nor too graphic–those enormous ones where you can see Jesus’ eyes rolling in pain and the drops of blood on his forehead freak me out. My favorite crucifix is the one on my Job’s Tears rosary, where Jesus is hanging from a dogwood tree instead of a cross.
Shop: One Days Grace. They make a variety of religious jewelry, not all of it Catholic or Christian.
This is a rosary ring, which was also popular during penal times for the same reason, and was even easier to hide. You moved the ring around your finger as you prayed and moved your thumb from one knob to the other. You had to keep track of the decades yourself, though.
I don’t know how old this is but it’s got a lovely patina.
Shop: Inspirational Supply. They mostly sell rosary parts, for people who like to make their own. This could be used as a necklace, it’s got a loop at the top, but I prefer it as a ring, which is its original intention.