People of various faiths have used beads as an aid in their prayers for many centuries. For some, knotted cords or beads have functioned primarily to keep count of the number of times a prayer has been said. For others, the benefit of a cord or beads has little to do with keeping count, and more to do with maintaining focus in prayer. When the mind wanders, the fingers call attention back to prayer.
There is a wealth of information online about the history of prayer beads and their use. For purposes here, let me simply explain the designations for the prayer beads that I create. A piece listed as a “Five Decade Rosary” is created following the structure of a traditional Catholic Rosary without a connecting center. A piece listed as an “Anglican Rosary” follows a 33 bead structure and probably needs a little more explanation. A few other rosary pieces are rather free-form, often composed of beads in groups of ten.
The following provides a brief explanation of the symbolism of an Anglican Rosary:
A total of 33 beads signify the years of Christ’s earthly life. Beads are divided into groups of sevens, known as “weeks.” Seven signifies the number of days of creation, the seasons of the Church year, and the Biblical number of completion.
Dividng beads on the rosary are known as “cruciform” beads. The cruciform beads form the points of a cross when the rosary is laid open in a circle. The first large bead is the “initiatory bead.”
The individual praying the Anglican Rosary determines what prayers are to be said. There is no set format. Inspiration for the prayers can be found in scripture, songs, the traditional prayers of the Church, or the individual’s person intentions. There are many resources online with suggested prayers.