BY CHRISTINA WHITE
SALES OF ROSARY beads are
expected to increase worldwide after a papal declaration last week of five new mysteries of the rosary.
The Holy Father marked the 25th year of his pontificate with the publication of an apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary).
Since the 15th century, the rosary — a series of Hail Marys, Our Fathers and Glorias, counted on a string of beads — has focused Catholics on the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries to mark different periods in the life of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
The Pope has now added five "mysteries of light" to focus the faithful on the
ministry of Christ. The themes of the new mysteries are Christ's baptism, Christ's selfrevelation at the wedding at Cana, Christ's announcement of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist. The Pope has asked that the new mysteries are recited, especially on Sundays.
Rosary beads are already the most popular items on sale by street vendors and gift shops at the Vatican and devotion to the rosary, a centuries old tradition of prayer and reflection, is increasing.
Fr Paul Duffner, Dominican director of a Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary and head of the Rosary Centre in Portland Oregon in the United States said its membership was over 2,000 and increasing by more than 100 every month. Confraternity members make a commitment to pray 15 decades of the rosary each week.
Fr Sebastian Karamvelil from St Paul's Bookshop in Westminster, London, said the shop had not witnessed a sudden upsurge in demand for rosaries, but expected sales to rise as the papal letter and the new mysteries are more widely publicised.
"Demand is already high," he explained, "people come here every day to buy rosaries — we sell 500-600 a week ranging in price from 50p to £550."
Fr Sebastian said rosaries were bought by a variety of people of different faiths and nationalities.
Small plastic rosaries costing just 50p were popular with children and with chaplains working in prison ministry and the armed forces overseas, he said. Solid gold rosaries were often purchased for couples celebrating a significant anniversary.
Fr Sebastian said he wasn't surprised that interest in the rosary was growing. He said: "It helps you to reflect. It helps that you have some physical connection with the mysteries. One woman, who isn't a Christian, told me she believed in the rosary. 'Mary is an agent for us all, helping to bring us to God,' she said."
The Pope has proclaimed a Year of the Rosary until October 2003, asking the faithful to pray for peace in the world.
The rosary priest: Page 6
The Pope's letter: Page 7 Pastor luventus: Page 12