As most of us are familiar with the beaded rosary, you would be forgiven for thinking that the rosary bead gets its name from the beads. This is not the case however as the “bead” in the name, actually comes from an Old English word meaning “to pray” or “to entreat”. So any rosary made using knots or even squared stones, can still be called a rosary bead.
In this article we will be going over a few of the different types of rosary designs that are available. As well as some of the different ways people use their rosary.
For more information on how to use rosary beads and a brief history of the rosary, see our article Rosary Beads.
Different Types of Rosary
The purpose of a rosary is to function a as devotion that allows us to not only keep track of how many times a prayer has been uttered, but to also honor Jesus and Mary. By holding onto a rosary during prayer we are presenting the Virgin Mary with a rose from of the Crown of Roses.
Just as not every prayer is the same, so too are many rosaries different from one another as each type of rosary can serve its own purpose. There are the full five decades prayer cycle rosary beads, or even a single decade rosary beads. Here we will be going over some of the different forms a rosary may take.
Five Decades Rosary
The five decades rosary bead is the most common and easily recognizable rosary on the market today. It consists of a crucifix with 53 beads for “Hail Mary”, 6 beads that may be different from the rest for “Our Father” prayers. These beads are sorted into five decades of ten Hail Mary’s, that are separated by one Our Father bead. This forms a loop that circles back to a rosary center that may be a bead or a medallion. These five decades rosaries like the one pictured above, can also be used with many other prayers such as the St. Gertrude Prayer to free souls from purgatory.
One Decade Rosary Beads
Containing only a single decade as apposed to the five decades of the more commonly used rosary beads. These one decade rosary are much easier to carry, and the risk of them tangling or knotting up on itself is greatly reduced by its smaller length.
1) Straight Chain Bead
Some one decade rosary beads are kept straight and may even be fastened into a key chain or trinket that you can attach to your bag, purse or wallet. These rosary usually consist of a cross or a crucifix, 1 “Our Father” and 10 “Hail Mary” beads and may end in a knot, ring or even a clip.
2) Looped Rosary Bead
Another one decade rosary that is like the five decade rosary beads, in that they form a loop with a rosary center that is often a medallion. They consist of a cross, followed by 1 “Our Father”, and then 10 “Hail Mary” beads that loop back onto the rosary center.
These rosary are used for specific sets of prayers, that are intended to ask for the help of Jesus, Mary, or the Saints. These rosary get their name from the word Chapelet, which is the french word for rosary, and unlike the more common rosary beads that have 10 beads per decade. These rosary may use clusters of 3 beads, or a total of 7 or 9 beads for a single decade. There may also be a space between decades or a medallion that is symbolic of the Saint that the beads are intended for. These differences in bead layout are due to the specific prayers and saints that they are intended to be used for.
1) Chaplet Chain
These small chains are easy to carry. They often consist of a cross or crucifix at one end, a medallion at the other, and the appropriate number of beads required for its intended use.
2) Chaplet Rosary
Like the more common five decade rosary, these rosary also form a loop. Unlike the common five decade rosary however, they use medallions in lieu of the “Our Father” beads and many have seven decades not the five. The prayers that are intended for these rosaries will also determine the bead layout.
Sometimes referred to as finger rosaries, these rosaries can be either a literal ring that can be worn, or a solid circular shape that can be easily carried in someone’s purse, wallet or pocket. Their intended purpose is to offer a portable means of devotion that can be easily accessed for prayer and protection. These rings have a cross or crucifix, and ten little bumps or tabs that make up a single decade.
1) Silver Spinner Rosary Rings
A ring like the one shown above, has the rosary bead wrapped around the actual ring on whats called a spinner. This allows for the wearer to use just one hand to both hold and rotate the rosary. By placing their thumb on the appropriate section of the ring, they are able to move the rosary/spinner along the ring as they hold each bead and the cross as they say their prayers.
2) Gold Rosary Ring
Solid rings like this one are like most other rings, in that they can be made of gold, silver, platinum or sterling silver. While this one shown has the rosary bead and the ring as one solid piece. They can be found with the rosary as a inlay, or with stones, both precious and semi-precious set into the ring. To use a rosary ring like this, the holder would hold the ringed finger in their other hand. Either turning the ring as they say their prayers, or touching each bead and the cross with different fingers as they completed their prayer.
3) Pocket Rosary Ring
A hail Mary rosary ring like the one on the left and the Celtic rosary ring like the one on the right, are designed to be carried on a person and not worn by them. To use these sort of rings, one would loosely hold the edge of the ring in one hand, and with the other hand they would grasp the beads and the cross between thumb and forefinger as they said each prayer, turning the ring in a counter clockwise motion to access the next bead or the cross.
As we reach set milestones in our lives, many of us may consider using rosaries that are made specifically for these occasions. Here are a few examples of rosaries that are used by many Christian based cultures to celebrate events in a persons life.
1) Wedding Rosary Beads
Traditionally a Hispanic custom, these over-sized rosary beads are made from two rosaries joining together at the center, forming two five decade loops instead of the traditional one loop that is found on a normal rosary. Also known as a lasso, or lazo, these rosaries are used to symbolize the joining of husband and wife and eyes of God. While these rosaries are more ceremonial and figurative, many husbands and wives will use these rosaries to pray together.
2) Baptism Rosary Beads
As the godparent for of the newly baptized boy or girl, you may want to consider presenting them with their very own set of rosary beads like the ones shown above as a gift. Presenting your new godchild with their own rosary bead goes a long way towards helping to guide them onto the path of the Lord and Church.
3) Funeral Rosary Beads
In 1997 when Princess Diana died, she was buried with an ivory rosary bead. While this may not be a pleasant topic for most people to consider discussing. Death none the less remains the final stage in our lives. Throughout history many cultures have given their dearly departed a final gift to see them off into the after life. By presenting your loved one with a set of funeral rosary beads, not only are you helping to offer their soul that last bit of protection. It also helps to guide and re-unit them with God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Other traditions may even give the friends and family a personalized rosary that has the deceased’s name on it, and by praying on these rosary beads during the ceremony, they are praying for this person’s soul.
Personal Rosary Beads
For centuries we have been using the rosary beads for personal protection and as portable devotions to use in prayer. Even to date, there are many people that hang a rosary on their bedhead to protect them from evil while they sleep. During times of conflict, many soldiers have been know to wrap their rosary around the barrel of their riffle. Some do this for their own protection and others did this to absolve their souls of sin for taking another’s life. In the past people use to carry their rosary around their neck or wrap it around their wrist, today we make jewelry just for this specific purpose.
Here are few examples of the types of rosary beads that can be carried or used for personal luck and for protection from evil:
1) Rosary For Your Car
These rosary hang off your rear-view mirrors
Stick on details for your bumper bar
2) Armed Forces Rosary
3) Necklace Rosary
4) Bracelet Rosary
5) Anklet Rosary
6) Children’s Rosary