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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "Italian Ivory Paternoster Rosary Bead"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
Old smooth creamy patina
Mid 17th Century
Size: 3.5cm high, 3.5cm dia. (max) - 1½ ins high, 1½ ins dia. (max)
Ex Cotswold's Private collection
See: Finch & Co catalogue no. 25, item no. 20, for a double sided south German rosary bead
The use of beads as an aid to devotion began in the medieval monasteries around 1000AD. Apart from the learned monks, priests and abbots, the laity were illiterate and unable to understand latin and so could not sing or recite the psalms. When given a set of 150 prayers to recite, they would use rosary beads to count them. The 150 beads were known as ‘Ave’ beads, a decade of ‘aves’ counted on the small beads is followed by a paternoster, the Lords prayer, for which a larger bead is used.
The number three is also important and is a basic component of the rosary's iconography. It has a complex history dating back to early Christian Ireland and is said to be related to the national symbol of Ireland, the trefoil of the shamrock.