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Corded Rosaries

Corded rosaries are rosaries made entirely of cord. The cord could be cotton, nylon, silk or rougher rope as used centuries ago. They can be very big with seven decades or small chaplets. They are almost as ancient as praying the rosary because, when monks wanted to keep track of how many prayers they recited, they tied knots in a rope, often worn around the waist, and counted one knot for one prayer. Today rosaries are beautiful pieces of jewelry sometimes made with precious metals and gems or more simply with wood glass or crystal beads. But there is still a place in the life of a Catholic for a rosary from ancient tradition.


Corded rosaries can be many different colors depending on the color of cord used. Sometimes several strands of different colors are blended to make something unique.   They come in combined colors that evoke a box of crayons or a rainbow, military camouflage for the jungle or desert, school colors such as navy and gold or scarlet and gray.  There is even yellow and white Papal rosary and three shades of lilac.  You can choose your own colors to match your outfits and get, or make, several.


There are detailed instructions online for making corded rosaries. You need 20 feet for a full rosary or 5 feet for a chaplet of #36 nylon twine. You can get this online in many colors. You need a lighter or lighted candle to seal the cord, some masking tape, scissors, any crucifix or medals you want included, but this is not essential as a cross for the end can also be made with the cord. Some tips are, make sure your fingertip fits between each knot. Your first attempt may not be exactly up to your expectations, but making these takes practice and if you keep at it you will be making beautiful rosaries.


Corded rosaries are very soft and will fit in your pocket, purse or school bag. They have been taken into countries where the Church is outlawed because they are not discovered by metal detectors. During the Viet Nam War priests used to make them to give to soldiers before they go out to battle. There is a tradition that in a vision, Mary gave St. Dominic a cord to count his prayers. The earliest written information is from 600 when Irish monks put 150 knots to count the Psalms.


There is simplicity about corded rosaries, almost self-sufficiency that brings you close to your faith. It’s very personal with no ostentation or jealousy possible. No one will see a flashy rosary, it will not make any clicking noise, and it is a private act between you and God. Also, when you are dressed very causally, this rosary matches your mood. If it goes through the washing machine in the pocket of your jeans, there is no problem. They don’t break, tangle and are hand washable. You can machine wash them if you put them in a lingerie bag. They are easy to make and worth the effort.

This article was published on Friday 02 April, 2010.

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