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The Technical Side of Choosing the Right Rosary

Oct 01, 2017 By Gretchen Filz | 34 Comments

Give me a rosary, any rosary will do!

Is this how you feel when you're faced with many different rosary styles? Or are you a bit more particular about choosing just the right one?

If you've ever been perplexed about choosing a rosary, you may have noticed that finding the right rosary will increase the likelihood of it actually being used for prayer, however silly that may sound. Being conscientious about choosing the look and feel that will be attractive to the user (whether for yourself, or as a gift for someone else) is a great way to ensure that the rosary will serve as a call to prayer instead of getting lost in a drawer.

1) Long rosary or short rosary?

The length of a rosary may matter to you. Typically, rosaries that have larger beads have a longer length, and smaller beads have a shorter length. Also, rosaries with chain links tend to be longer than corded rosaries. The shorter rosaries may be a little more difficult to count the prayers (that is, your fingers may have a harder time moving over the beads), however the shorter length makes them much easier to tuck into pockets and other small spaces. With longer rosaries you can pray without having to look down to make sure you don't skip a bead; however, the longer ones (especially those with links between the beads) also tend to tangle more easily. If choosing a longer rosary, you may want to keep it in a rosary pouch or box to keep it from getting tangled.

2) Smooth rosary beads or faceted beads?

Smooth rosary beads run through the fingers easily and feel nice, while faceted jewelry-like beads are much more beautiful. The multifaceted cut reflects the light in sparkly shades of color, especially when each bead resembles a precious stone, such as with birthstone rosaries. Although these jewelry-like beads are stunning, they don't glide through the fingers as easily as beads with a smooth surface. So, do you choose a rosary that your hands like, or that your eyes like? That's up to you!

3) Basic or fancy rosary?

Some rosaries are very plain and basic, and these are always safe bets for giving to new Catholics (the more elaborate or decorative rosaries may be a little too much for them), for children, or for giving out in multiples (to bible study groups, etc). Plain rosaries typically have round beads strung on a thin cord rope, and are usually very inexpensive.  Plastic rosaries also fall into this category and are good for giving to groups or to children.  However, will the plain, inexpensive rosaries be an encouragement to pray the rosary daily? Or, is a nicely-crafted rosary more likely to do the trick? If you admit that having a beautiful rosary that you absolutely love will encourage you to use it more, then you have your answer!

4) Regular or special devotion rosary?

If you have a particular saint or devotion that is special to you, you may want to consider special devotion rosaries that usually have a centerpiece and/or bead color associated with that devotion.  For example, the Divine Mercy rosary has a centerpiece of the Divine Mercy image of Jesus, and the beads have red and white swirls that are symbolic of the red and white rays that shine from Jesus’ Sacred Heart in the famous Divine Mercy image.  Other examples of special devotion rosaries feature Our Lady of Guadalupe or the St. Benedict medal.  If you have a special devotion, you may want to consider a rosary associated with it to help you remember that particular intention each time you pray the rosary.

5) Child or adult rosary? Man or woman?

When you're choosing a rosary as a gift, be sure to choose one that takes into account who you're giving it to. If you're giving a rosary to a man, don't choose a fancy one with jewelry-like beads. Choose a men's rosary, usually with larger-sized brown or black beads. The larger beads are better for a man's large hands to manage, and the earth-tone colors are more masculine. If you're giving a rosary to a child, choose a children's rosary that is fun and colorful with smaller beads. Baby rosaries have bright, oversized beads ideal for a baby's hands to grasp easily.  If you're choosing a rosary for a mature woman, you might want to choose a beautiful, classic rosary with an ornate crucifix and centerpiece and elaborate beads. These kinds of feminine rosaries are simply stunning and become treasured heirlooms for the family.  Also, many gift rosaries can be engraved with a personalized name to make it a special keepsake.

As a rosary connoisseur (I have way too many) I've noticed that I prefer the look and style of some rosaries over others. These not only remind me to pray, but they also make me want  to pick them up and pray the rosary each time I see them—whether they're in my car or on my bedside table. So, be sure to choose a rosary that you love (for whatever reason) in order to give yourself the best chance of praying the rosary daily, as Our Lady asked us to. The same goes for those to whom you may be gifting a rosary. If you put some thought into your choice, you may increase the likelihood of it being used regularly. When in doubt, ask your Guardian Angel for help in choosing the right one!

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2012. © The Catholic Company

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Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion. After receiving her M.A. in Christian Apologetics, she converted to the Catholic Faith in 2011. She lives and works in the Diocese of Charlotte.

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