One Hail Mary at a Time: Rosary, Tradition, Craft
Ruega Por Nosotros
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
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.