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Childhood memories are vivid, almost indescribable in their detail, and impossible to forget. A Christmas memory I have is that of a black velvet dress  a family friend gave to me for my seventh Christmas.
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One Hail Mary at a Time: Rosary, Tradition, Craft

Submitted by on February 22, 2012 – 6:36 am10 Comments

Ruega Por Nosotros

Jessica Olivarez Mazone By Jessica Olivarez Mazone

Ruega por Nosotros…

I am Texan, Latina, and Catholic. One thing that I have always admired growing up was the glass bead rosaries my Abuelita would pray with during church, funerals, and as a daily method of meditating.

I would watch my Abuela kneeling on the red-carpeted kneelers, her blue rosary clicking against her silver, hand-made wedding band.

Click, one Hail Mary, Click, her fingers moving rhythmically, as she stared above her lit candle at the Virgen De San Juan at the basilica in Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, praying for what I would never know. I simply watched Abuela, in her simple black dress and her hair covered with the black veil she used when praying.

Since then, I have had a fascination with rosaries and I suspect it is a way to keep a part of my culture alive. Abuela has been gone for almost 20 years. I was looking at her cross statue that is hanging on my wall. Her rosaries, hung askew atop the stone crucifix, are different colors. They look like a timeline of her life, the different styles as they hang there in reverence, constantly in prayer.

One Hail Mary

purple and silver rosary

Devotion, prayer, reverence, beauty is what I have always associated with the rosary. A calmness of self and spirit, it is a time for meditation.

It was this yearning that led me to create my first rosary.

I researched online how to create a rosary. The methods were all unique. Stringing, Knotting, wire wrapping, but as a beginner I knew stringing would be the best option.

Fifty-nine beads create a rosary, 53 Hail Mary’s and 6 Our Father’s.

When I started beading, I never thought I would make a Rosary. I started with bracelets and earrings. I strung my first rosary, praying with each strung bead, perhaps out of habit. It was a St. Benedict rosary.

As I became more confident in myself and my ability, I expanded to include gemstones. I looked for unique crosses and settings. I expanded the norm of Rosarios. I have rosaries made of Tiger’s Eye, Sponge Coral, Lava Rock, and Crystals. I made long ones, prayer ones, wearable rosaries.

Catholicism and the Latino community are so interconnected that it is hard to tell when one part of our culture ends and another begins. It is as if being Catholic is just another part of who you are, a customary version of traditions and ideals that are passed down through the generations even when we are no longer Catholic.

My Catholicism was a mix of indigenous folk tales, legends, prayers, and cleansings. I miss Abuela. I miss her placing the lace black veil over her head as she knelt in church.

Each time I string one, each time I finish one, I think of my Abuela.

Jessica Olivarez Mazone is the Tejana behind TejanaMade, a blog dedicated to her love for South Texas, Tex-Mex, her mixed-race family, and her heritage.

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10 Comments »

  • Vianney says:

    Jessica a touching story. I have the same memories of my abuelita praying with her beloved rosary. Last year she spent Easter with us and we went to San Juan for service. She pulled out her rosary and the beads showed sign of age. After mass my hubby took her to the gift shop and purchased her a new stained glass rosary. One of the sweetest gestures, love that man! Glad to see you featured on Tiki Tiki!!

  • You made me remember how much I love rosaries. I have a special one hidden somewhere in this mess of a home from when I was a kid. Will have to look for it now. Thank you for this!

  • Carrie says:

    Jessica, I think this is beautiful and inspiring…I can hear the click, click, click….and I imagine how much of a connection this is for you.

    When I knit, I pray…so, I get it a little.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Pamela P. says:

    What a beautiful post. My tía prayed the rosary constantly. At her funeral, a group of her co-workers, mostly women from Mexico, prayed the rosary out loud after the service. It was so soothing to hear the beads clicking and their voices rising and falling with the prayers. Thank you for sharing your memories of your abuelita.

  • Monica says:

    I have strong memories of my ‘Buelita and her rosary, too. I can distinctly remember her sitting in her room, quietly praying with a rosary in her hand. I would quietly go and climb on her bed and lay there listening to her voice and that same click, click sound.

    Thank you for reminding me of someone I still love so much.

  • Jessie Nuez says:

    You brought me back to my childhood listening to my mother recite el padre nuestro in the morning, before meals, at night or whenever the mood would strike.

    Thank you for a great post!
    Jessie Nuez´s last [fabulousness] ..New Year New Perspective

  • I think it’s an important tradition. Thanks for sharing it with us :)

  • Abuela says:

    Que lindo este articulo y ese recuerdo tan bello de la abuela,gracias.

  • Sujeiry says:

    I love rosaries and also have many memories of my abuela due to them. She prayed often, usually at dawn. It’s a beautiful piece of our Catholic Latino culture.

  • Hi Jessica: Although I could probably be your mom or
    grandma, hahahahaha, I too remember my abuelita with the
    very same love and the things we did together, even
    Church going…though she has been gone for so long
    I still find myself pinening for her:):).
    Jessi, I to make Rosaries and I started the same way
    about 10 years ago. I have made many and I always say
    that I am going to sell them and I never do. I always
    end up giving them away and I also make Mission Rosaries
    and send them to Missions around the world. If you
    are ever interested in doing that I can tell you
    where to get the material for very little expense.
    Jessica I would like to know where you found that
    center to the your Rosary, it seems to be Our Lady
    of Caridad del Cobre, I never seem to find the
    Spanish centers in my neck of the wood. If you
    can would you be so kind and lead me to where I can
    buy some. If I can ever be of help to you in any
    way with your rosaries, please feel free to email.
    I check my mail on a daily basis. It is a pleasure to
    see young ladies like yourselve doing such a beautiful
    craft. Dios y la Virgencita te Bendiga, God Bless,
    Coco

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