Joseph and Mary's hardships would have begun just weeks before the birth of their son, when the couple had to leave their home in Nazareth to register for a Roman census in the city of Joseph's ancestors, 90 miles away.
Memento Mori - new interest in an old tradition. March 2, 2020 17:14
Ever wondered what Memento Mori are?
Maybe you've seen a rosary with a skull attached and thought it was a bit of a strange thing to be included among the beads?
Memento Mori means "remember you must die", and it is represented by objects such as death-heads or skulls. Many saints like St Gerard Majella kept one close at all times to remind him that every day is important, as which will be our last day is unknown.
There is a current revival of the old tradition of symbols reminding us that life is fleeting so we had better make the most of it .... read on!
Memento Mori are symbols or objects which are a traditional addition to a rosary or chaplet, intended for the living as a reminder of the brevity of life. They are not meant to be morbid, haunting or promote fear - they are intended as a reminder to get on with living life to the fullest while you can.
To quote Steve Jobs:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Or as it says in Psalm 89:46 of the Bible - “O Remember how short my time is.”
The use of symbolic skulls in rosaries & chaplets dates all the way back to the late middle ages (1050 - 1500). They were particularly popular in Italy, Germany, and Mexico and especially with priests, nuns and monks - and those who wanted a visible expression of their piety.
Skulls on rosaries have been used for hundreds of years, and historical art and doctrine supports the use of skulls in the rosary. Today, Memento Mori are becoming popular again in rosaries, jewellery and decor items. A rosary or jewellery item including Memento Mori can be found ghoulish by some, but they have earned their place in the rich history of symbols of devotion.
Memento Mori often are skulls or death’s-heads; antique ones are sometimes double-sided with a face on one side and a skull on the other.
Often made from carved bone, wood or ivory, they are also seen formed in crystal & precious metals, especially when used in religious jewelry. Memento Mori were sometimes a sign of the owners wealth and status in society. Some memento mori are very elaborate, true works of art.
Crystal skulls were very popular in earlier centuries, & an educated European might place an actual skull on a desk or side-table.
Memento Mori are not as popular today as in previous centuries, when they were commonly seen on tombstones and in graveyards. Their purpose there was to help keep the living on the straight & narrow for fear of heavenly judgment. Today, as life seems to become faster than ever, Memento Mori are a visual reminder to take time out to center ourselves in a peaceful & God-centered way, one day at a time.
A prayer was usually said when contemplating a Memento Mori reminder, in thanksgiving for life, such as these examples:
I dwell upon the goodness in my life.
I cherish in my heart Your gift to me.
I notice the blessings of life, breath, loving and sharing.
I am grateful.
For the winter, when we are held safe in Your arms through the darkness;
For the hope of spring, as we are filled with renewed hope & life;
And for autumn days, as leaves fall to seed new growth.
You are with us always.
Symbols of the 12 Apostles February 5, 2019 17:08
Did you know that each of the 12 Apostles has their own symbol? Sort of like a coat of arms or a family crest, these symbols have meanings that tell a small part of each Saint's story as a visual reminder to us of their faith.
Renaissance Women Wore Paternosters January 18, 2019 13:18
Medieval Paternoster Revival January 17, 2019 09:58
The years between 500AD and 1450AD are referred to as the medieval era. During this time, particularly in Europe, using strings of beads to count prayers was a very common practice in all levels of society.
Paternosters were made in a
straight line (linear) style, or in
a closed circlet (loop) style.
Here's a closed loop paternoster
from my new collection, based
Made with large agate beads &
forged metal pieces.
Prayers were recited in Latin back then, and the prayer most often used was the Lord's prayer, starting with the words "Our Father" ... in Latin that is "Pater Noster", and so the prayer beads themselves became known as paternosters.
Here a Medieval monk makes
rosary beads from bone or
wood. Precious metals and
beads were used too.
Medieval rosaries were strung
on a variety of materials
including silk, wool, linen
&hemp. Linking beads with
metal wire became popular in
the following period, the
My new collection features paternosters and rosaries based on the designs and examples of middle age prayer beads that still exist today, mainly in museums around the world.
The short rosary known as a paternoster is a great prayer aid for today's times, every bit as relevant and convenient as it was centuries ago. A real connection to the history of our shared prayer - and worthy of a revival among modern faithful.
Another paternoster from
my upcoming collection.
This one is strung on silk
polyester cord, and includes
a thumb ring and tassel.
Medieval rosaries came in a large range of lengths. Strands of nine, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty-three, sixty-three, seventy-two and one hundred and fifty beads were all used. The short form of the rosary was used with the Our Father prayer, and usually had 9, 10, 15 or 20 beads - a convenient size to carry with you for daily use.
Paternosters - Prayer Beads for Today January 15, 2019 08:57
I am not aiming to reproduce historical rosaries and paternosters, but rather to use modern materials and techniques to bring prayer beads from the past into today's prayer life again.
PRAY ♦ ♦ ♦ For Gifts of the Holy Spirit September 30, 2017 15:54
A chaplet prayer for grace, piety, knowledge,
fortitude, counsel, understanding and wisdom.
Today we might call these gifts by other names -
perhaps serenity, faith, insight, endurance, guidance,
empathy and open-mindedness.
Share the enthusiasm and faith that filled the heart of Saint Alphonsus Liguori - a man who never held back in praying!
So much did he love and trust in the Blessed Virgin and Her son Jesus,
that he wrote books, chaplets and songs so we could all join with him
in our prayers.
This wee chaplet is known as the Chaplet for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit -
an appropriate prayer as we head into the "silly season" and all the marketing
and hype surrounding December and New Year.
I'll include a card of St Alphonsus' prayers with the chaplet.
Gorgeous Gold Letter Beads to Personalize your Purchase! September 10, 2017 14:46
I am so happy to be able to add some really good quality gold letter beads to my range of personalised items!
I've been testing these lovely wee gold pewter beads for months to make sure they pass my high quality expectations - and they do! Rosary bracelets for babies and full rosaries for adults as well as children are popular choices for adding a name or initials to.
These new beads are made by Tierracast in America, and are absolutely free of nickle or lead so they are safe for you and your loved ones. Tierracast uses food grade pewter in their beads, which have a durable anti-tarnish gold finish.
So for my customers who love to add that extra layer of meaning to their gift by personalisation, I can now extend the range of products where this is possible to include my gold bracelets and rosaries.
All by items that can be personalised can now have either gold or silver - you choose your favorite color.These sweet gold letter beads add to my current possibilities for adding that personal touch, which already includes silver letter beads, letter charms and Swarovski crystal birthstone charm options.
Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or to discuss adding a personalised touch to your purchase.
June 29th - Saints Feast Day for Peter and Paul June 5, 2017 16:14
June 29th every year is the Feast Day for Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome under the Emperor Nero in the year 67. Peter was crucified head down at his own request. Paul was a Roman citizen and, therefore, could not be crucified according to Roman law and so he was beheaded. The Church unites them in a common celebration on June 29th and gives them identical honor.
Thinking about this pair of mighty men always draws me to my workbench, and so with them in mind, I have created this little rosary in their honor. It comes with prayers to use with it, and you can of course substitute your own prayers as well.
Chaplet of Saints Peter & Paul
Relax, enjoy beautiful collections! November 20, 2016 10:14
I recently discovered Polyvore.com ... yes, I'm a bit behind the times with these amazing online places to visit! What a wonderful way to relax with gorgeous collections of goodies from all around the world!
Loving the Catholic themed collections put together by the lovely Teresa Russo from TerryTiles - like the one above and this one here:
Loving the 3 Hail Marys Chaplet in the center of this collection too ...... just happens to be right here in my shop
Beads to Bracelet for Mary ... September 14, 2016 11:05
Thought I would share with you how my designs often come together in my workroom. They start with a theme I am thinking about and grow into my beads of praise, going directly from my hands to yours.
This time of year always brings the Virgin Mary into my mind, thinking of her as she awaits the birth of her baby. Just 3 months to go ... and she and Joseph will be aware that they must be on the move to Bethlehem very soon.
They had to travel south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. It would be a hard and dangerous trip, probably only covering 10 miles a day because of Mary's pregnancy.
The trip through the Judean desert would have been at a time when the temperatures during the day are very high and at night it would be freezing.
So with this journey in my mind as a guiding inspiration, I assemble my beads and the design seems to come together of its own accord. I am happy with the result in this bracelet - flowers for Mary in the color purple to signify majesty and the deep night skies the family traveled under. Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows ... and hope, beauty and faith.
Past and present - a beautiful combo! August 20, 2016 15:08 2 Comments
Loving combining the beautiful designs found in rosaries from the past with today's materials!
The Renaissance Era included some really intricate metalwork in rosaries, with beautiful filigree and layers of decoration around the beads, especially the Our Father & Glory Be beads, as well as ornate crosses and crucifixes.
From the workroom ... August 6, 2016 13:07
I love this part of my job ... who would think being a rosary maker means I can get out my sewing machine?!
Here I am making the rosary pouches that go with all my full-size rosaries. There are many things happening in my workroom to make sure the pieces you buy from me are "special" and meaningful for you.
One of the things I like to do is create a little lined rosary pouch to go with each full-size rosary. If you are gifting the rosary, the pouch is a nice finishing touch for when you present your gift.
You can use it to store your own rosary when not you're not using it, and they are very handy for carrying your rosary when you are on the move so the beads don't get damaged. They slide easily into a pocket, purse or backpack.
All rosaries made with natural gemstone beads - like many of mine are - should be stored away from direct light. Popping them into a rosary pouch is one way to easily take care of that!
Feel free to contact me and request the style of rosary bag you would prefer - you can ask for 4 different styles although I will choose the exact material I use from my considerable stash. You can request a pouch specially for a girl or a boy, or for a man or a woman. Or I will choose a bag that goes with the rosary for you.
Let us pray .... July 12, 2016 13:22
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”
- Meister Eckhart
For men who pray July 4, 2016 10:43
Just adding some new pieces with tons of masculine appeal in the Men's Collection. Two new pieces today: a contemporary Sacred Heart chaplet featuring a Saint Benedict cross, and a black onyx and antiqued brass 5 decade rosary.
The Sacred Heart chaplet is a traditional "niner" style - ideal for today's busy life-style. The smaller size makes it easy to carry with you, and it uses 3 easily remembered prayers: the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory be to the Father. A prayer card is included.
The handsome black onyx rosary is smooth and cool through the fingers, and is well-made for rugged hands - will last for many years of prayer. The antiqued brass radiant crucifix and Miraculous Medal center give the rosary the look of a treasure from a bygone age.
Rosaries in unusual hands! April 11, 2016 10:30 1 Comment
I have been researching old images of rosaries and just have to share these two with you!
This image is actually a 15th century cookie mold from Bonn in Germany. It's a classic illustration of an old proverb, showing a fox in a monk's cowl preaching to a congregation of geese.
The proverb says “When a fox preaches, take care of your geese.” The proverb is about keeping an awareness of hidden agendas even when the "preacher" speaks fine words - the fox has but one agenda which is to eat the geese. The proverb says that if you let your guard down then Mr Fox will do what comes naturally, so stay alert.
You can see the fox up in his pulpit. He has already collected two geese - their heads are sticking out of his hood - yet the congregation of pious geese is still listening to him. You can tell they are pious because they are all carrying rosaries in their bills!
Cookie molds are a form of late-medieval folk art from Germany and they showed images of religious, proverbial and humorous art of the times.
And here is a rabbit with a rosary! This pretty image is from the border of a medieval illuminated manuscript. Back in the days when texts were painstakingly copied out line by line entirely by hand, the monks often added wonderful hand-drawn images to the borders of the pages, as well as the fabulously ornate lettering.
This year I will be introducing a new line of medieval-inspired rosaries to my shop. My desk is covered with beautiful pictures from the past as I design a range of medieval rosaries made with modern materials. Keep an eye out for them in about a month!
An Art-Full Start to 2016 January 10, 2016 15:48 1 Comment
Finding inspiration for my new creations each year is a big part of my work, and the start of a New Year is always really enjoyable as I look outwards at the way other artists and craftspeople are expressing their faith through the work of their hands.
There are so many talented people - I could lose myself for hours immersed in the art of people who will probably never know how much joy and inspiration they have given to me.
Let me share some of the clever artisan's work I have found on Etsy - the best place online to find art and crafts in one place handmade by folk who make their living through their own work.
This year I am really feeling a pull toward folk art and rustic icons as inspiration for my work - so expect to see these influences in my shop later this year (possibly the result of reading the parables again, and how they relate to the everyday lives of people of the time).
For now, I hope you enjoy this selection of beautiful images of faith from the folk art painters on Etsy as much as I have. Click on any of the images to see more work by each artist.
May your 2016 be blessed in all areas.
A Christian Meditation for Christmas November 14, 2015 17:44
A lovely song known by many people, that can serve as a prompt for meditative prayer at Christmas, and a wonderful way to keep Christ right in the center of busy lives at this time of year. I know when this song is in my mind, thoughts of the love of God are in my heart too.
As a meditation, the meaning of this song can be used at any time of year. I have been making Christmas Chaplets this week for this song, so that the meaning of the 12 Days in the song can be used as meditative prayers with a little rosary. You can see them in the Christmas Collection in my shop, along with other Christmas devotional prayer beads (and some Christmas earrings!).
Good As Gold August 24, 2015 18:48
I just finished a gold pearl baptism rosary and got to thinking about how precious a wee baby is ... and how the color gold means precious too. Gorgeous gold has many layers of meaning.
In Christian art this color symbolises the sun, divine radiance and revealed truth. In decor and fashion, the colour gold is associated with optimism and positive energy, gold adds richness and warmth to everything with which it is associated.
Here are some of my favourite gold finds for a special baby's Baptism day - enjoy!
Take it from the top!
Little feet leave big footprints on your heart!
Gifts from godparents & family - timeless treasures.
Smile for the camera! May 24, 2015 16:05
I love researching the history of prayer beads down through the ages. I spend a lot of time looking through old pictures and records from the early days of Christianity and earlier times too, looking at how rosaries and religious jewellery have shown the faith of their designers and how they have been chosen and used by centuries of faithful people.
I am always struck by how all early photos show such stern and unsmiling people! Were times so grim back then that the people in the photos - adults and children alike - had nothing to smile about? And how did they get all those babies and young children not to smile for the camera?
I may have found an answer to my question in this extract from an old book I have uncovered, written in the early 1700's, which was a manual on how to "behave like a Christian" ......
“There are some people who raise their upper lip so high… that their teeth are almost entirely visible. This is entirely contradictory to decorum, which forbids you to allow your teeth to be uncovered, since nature gave us lips to conceal them.” – Jean-Baptiste De La Salle, The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility, 1703
Well ..... there you have it! And to think that I never knew that was what my lips were for!!
Praying Mothers May 8, 2015 20:35
I have been thinking about praying mothers lately, and all the mothers right around the world who are praying for their children right at this very minute. There must be a great number of them every minute of every day, because praying for your children is such a natural urge and at times the only thing a mother can do to help her child.
As a mother of three sons, I know I started prayer for my children before they were even born! Now they are all young adults, I pray for them all the more as they move into taking on the cares and responsibilities of adulthood. Which led me to thinking about another mother who knew her fair share of despair over the path in life her son chose to take. Her answer to her sorrow was prayer, and her prayers were answered.
This mother had a son who was gifted and had a bright future ahead of him. He left home to study, moving away from his devoutly Christian mother for the first time. Soon he falls into a bad crowd, causing his mother great concern and grief as he turned to a life of reckless living and vice. He forgets the faith he had as a child, and moves in to live with a woman with whom he has a child - this poor mother hardly knows anything about her grandchild. Finally, her son drifts into a strange cult and his chosen path tears his family apart - and his mother cries as she prays for his return to the safety of his loving family and comfort of his old faith.
Thirty-two years Monica prayed for her son Augustine! And her prayers were answered in a way that satisfied her mother's heart to overflowing and brought great benefit to people of faith everywhere. Today Saint Monica's patronages include married women (she herself was a widow), and she is a role model for Christian motherhood.
For mothers who despair for their children, Saint Monica's story offers hope and comfort. With these thoughts in my mind and holding my children and all the other children whose mother's are praying for them in my heart, I created a chaplet of Saint Monica. I love the prayers that come with this traditional chaplet, so will include a printed card of them to go with the chaplet.
You can see more of my work that includes Saint Monica by clicking this link: Saint Monica Collection
Confirmation - A special time for teens and adults March 12, 2015 14:59
Some milestones in a Catholic's life are so important that many Catholics like to give a gift to the person at the center of the occasion, both to share their faith and also as a lasting reminder that they and the person they gift to are both parts of a wider Catholic Church community. Accepting the Sacrament of Confirmation is one of those special times for Catholic teens and also for adults entering the Church through an RCIA programme in their area.
Confirmation is the time when Catholics fully join the Roman Catholic Church as adults and embrace the responsibilities and joys of choosing to be Catholic, and builds on the Sacraments of Baptism, Penance and Holy Communion. Through the Sacrament of Confirmation the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon the baptized in order to make them more perfect soldiers of Christ.
Naturally you will want to choose a gift that is symbolic of this wonderful occasion, and is a personal gift from you to a special person.
* The dove is a common symbol for Confirmation.
The white dove is representative of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Confirmed to more firmly unite them to Christ. Sometimes the dove is inflight, sometimes descending as the Holy Spirit descends on the confirmant, and sometimes the dove holds an olive leaf or branch in its beak as a symbol of the peace that passes all understanding. This symbol perhaps is rooted in the Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17 when Peter and John laid hands on the Samarians and prayed that they would receive the Holy Spirit, as is done in the Confirmation ceremonies of today. Through Confirmation, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are increased and a medal or emblem of the Holy Spirit included as part of a confirmation gift is always appropriate.
* The color red is associated with Confirmation.
Pentecost is also closely related to the Sacrament of Confirmation as it was the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. This is why the color red is associated with Confirmation. The red flames of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit dove are often included in some way in a confirmation gift, making it a special reminder of this Sacrament. For this reason, gifts in red or with red accents are good choices for this occasion.
* A Patron Saint medal is a popular choice.
Choosing a Confirmation name is a part of being confirmed. Find out what patron saint your Confirmand has chosen and make them a gift of that Saint's medal. Patron Saint medals come in a variety of styles and are included in rosaries and chaplets as well as being worn in jewellery. Make their confirmation even more special by giving them the patron saint medal just before the ceremony as something special to wear as they are being confirmed. Catholics share the belief in the Communion of Saints with many other Christians - the belief where all saints are intimately related in the Body of Christ as a family, and the Confirmand is entering the same family as their patron saint through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Easter is a popular time for many Catholics to be confirmed. As we draw closer to Easter, I have added some new pieces to my Confirmation Collection for you to consider.
A rosary is a traditional and popular gift for a Confirmand, and is often given by a godparent or family member. A rosary bracelet is another gift that can be worn as a lasting reminder both of the occasion itself, and of the person gifting it. Catholic saint medals feature in many rosaries and rosary bracelets, and are also able to be worn as a simple neck chain.
Personalisation options are available for many of the items you see in my shop - please don't hesitate to contact me and ask if any item can be personalised for you if it isn't specially offered in the description. Including a name or initials is a lovely way of showing extra care and attention in your choice of gift.
Sometimes we can't be present physically at these important ceremonies for the people we love, and so I am always happy to gift wrap your choice and send it directly to the recipient on your behalf with a personal message included. There is no extra cost for this service, you only need to ask and I am happy to be the person in the middle of the pathway from you to your loved one. Whatever your gift choice, it is sure to be treasured for a lifetime.
New chaplet bracelets coming soon! February 16, 2015 19:49
... a new range of chaplet prayer bracelets which will allow the wearer to carry a wee chaplet with them as a lovely item of jewellery ...