Medieval Paternoster Rosary, Crusaders Memento Mori Prayer Beads
This paternoster rosary is based on prayer beads from the Medieval period, using historical design elements in a modern adaptation. This is a "memento paternoster" which includes reminders of religious ideas & concepts or personal items of significance to the user.
The rosary is substantial, with a solid weight and feel in the hands. There are 5 groups of 10 prayer beads (like the modern rosary), separated by larger gaud beads which we call Pater or Our Father beads today.
The decades are 10mm round sapphire blue Czech glass and the gauds are 15mm carved pewter beads, strung on strong braided black rosary thread. The gauds are knotted in place on the strand, leaving enough room on the thread for you to move the prayer beads along the strand as you pray the rosary.
At the front is a large beaten pewter focal piece bearing a small Crusader's Cross emblem in the center and on each side. A solid iron Christian cross hangs alongside.
The "mementos" attached to this rosary include a Jerusalem cross with a brown bead representing the land, a red cotton tassel and 2 memento mori skulls. Legend has it that a tassel was included in paternosters for the purpose of wiping away tears shed during prayer - tears of sorrow, submission & joy.
Memento mori are reminders that we are mortal & life is fleeting. These skulls may seem ghoulish today, but they helped keep the living on the straight & narrow in earlier centuries. An educated European might place an actual skull on his desk to keep the idea of death always present in his mind - as indeed St Gerard did.
There is a pewter ring which can be used to hang the rosary on a belt or bag strap, or placed over a finger to secure the rosary in use. The ring is not fixed in place so the beads can be moved to any position in the loop without interfering with the flow of beads through your fingers.
In past times, a rosary such as this would have been visibly displayed on clothing, or carried over the forearm or in the hand as a sign of piety. Many of my rosaries are enjoyed by historic re-enactment groups, and although they are not exact replicas they embody the spiritual concepts of the Medieval and Renaissance period.
Beads: 100m Czech glass & 15mm pewter;
Focal: 5cm / 2 inches tall;
Ring: 3cm / 1.2 inches across:
Overall length when hanging: approx 40cm / 15.75cm.
This Renaissance Revival paternoster comes in a handmade (by me) pouch to store it in. An information card about Memento Mori is included.