This is my Great Grandmother’s rosary. It’s probably 80+ years old.
According to family lore, it was buried with her back in the 1950’s. It appeared again in my Great Aunt’s jewelry box many years later. It went missing again until my Mom found it probably 20 years ago. Everyone swore that it was indeed Nano’s rosary. And no one knew how or why it kept popping back up.
There are probably tons of rational reasons behind it’s peripatetic existence and several more mystical theories. What interested me most, was what my role might be as one in a very long line of these rosary praying women.
Praying the rosary again after many years away has opened a channel to my ancestors that I never imagined and with the passing of my own Mother, made the experience even more potent.
Whatever the how of it’s appearance I knew the why was simple: PRAY THE ROSARY.
Not long after Mom transitioned late last year, her cousin asked me if I knew where Nano’s rosary was. I had no idea but promised to look for it. I couldn’t recall what Nano’s rosary looked like or even if I had ever actually seen it before but I went with the description that family gave me – small and silver. Mom had MANY rosaries tucked away here and there in boxes, drawers, squirreled away with other things like bundled into socks and such. I emailed photos of a few that I thought could be it but everyone agreed that none of those were the ONE. Eventually I found this set of beads, broken and missing the crucifix. It was very worn from long use. I sent photos out to family and it was unanimous – this was Nano’s rosary! Yay! I had found it.
I thought I would repair it or re-string it, since it was only missing a crucifix, it would be easy to fix. But then who should have it? Should I put it back in a drawer and let it magically appear to whomever it pleased? It didn’t feel right to keep it myself – I too have plenty of rosaries and it didn’t seem right to keep it.
I spent some time in prayer and asking Nano and my folks on the other side what to do, for it felt like I should do something and that it was up to me to do sort it out – but what? I didn’t get any flashing signs from the other side or anything. I did get a strong sense of permission for me to know and do the right thing.
Nano has six surviving Grandchildren and dozens of Great & Great Great grand-kids. I might be the only one who still says the rosary (and that being a somewhat recent occurrence).
I discussed it with a few of my uncles and decided to take apart the rosary and use some of the beads to make chaplets for all of her 6 surviving Grandchildren. Each chaplet had 7 beads from her original rosary. Two for each of the three decades and one on the stem and filled in the rest of the beads with those that I though each would like.
Before moving back home to Maui I got them all mailed out to their people with a note of explanation. I forgot to take many photos of them but there are a couple below.
If you have an heirloom rosary, I encourage you to spend some time with it. It too could lead you to connect to your family tree through the rosary and perhaps share with your living relations.
Reach out if you’d like some ideas of working with family beads. I can also work to do something similar for your family if a craft project is not something you’d be into. firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll finish with this pic of Nano and one of my Great Aunts on the Beach in California. I have her witchy chin, nose and cheekbones. And like a true Scotswoman, she is wearing an Argyll sweater at the beach. 🤣