Beads and blessings
US News and World Report
Tue Dec 14,
By Betsy Carpenter
When celebrities like soccer ace David Beckham and pop star Britney Spears start draping themselves in rosaries, you know that prayer beads have acquired a new cachet. But it is not just the fashion obsessed. Among the recently converted: Protestants who are reconfiguring the Catholic rosary and New Agers of all stripes who are stringing personalized prayer strands.
The practice of fingering beads while meditating or praying is
ancient and widespread. It first came into general use in
Christian vision. The first Christians to encounter prayer beads may have been the Crusaders, although Catholic tradition says that the rosary was revealed to St. Dominic in the 13th century during a vision. The rosary emphasizes the "Hail, Mary, full of grace" prayer. It had become an important part of the devotional life of Catholics when it ran afoul of Protestant reformers, including Martin Luther, who said it verged on idolatry.
Today, however, even some Protestants are introducing prayer beads
into their spiritual lives. Darel Paul, a Lutheran
who is an assistant professor of political science at