How to Make the Rosary Truly Beautiful

by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard
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It’s actually pretty ridiculous that I pray the rosary daily. After all, when was the last time you saw a Protestant pastor’s kid meditating on a string of well-varnished beads?

Like so many others, I was absolutely convinced that praying to Our Lady would punch my one-way ticket to eternal damnation, so I avoided her (and anything to do with her) like the plague.

Not anymore.

After 20 plus years as a Catholic, I’m more firmly convinced than ever that deep Marian devotion is an intrinsic part of our salvation process. We need her.

After all, she’s not just the Mother of God, she’s our mother, the matriarch, so to speak, of the Divine Family for which we are made! (And just in case you’re a Protestant brother or sister reading this…no, we don’t believe her to be divine. But as the Mother of God, she’s the highest and greatest of all creatures.)

She’s also the perfect example of what you and I are made to be – an exquisitely beautiful saint empowered by God’s grace. In fact, one of her many titles is “More Beautiful Than Beauty.”

Of course, as a Protestant, I didn’t think much about beauty. My church literally congregated in a gymnasium with an orange shag carpet platform and felt banners covering basketball hoops.

Functional? I guess. Beautiful? Not even close.

We didn’t understand what Catholics intuitively know. Namely, that beauty matters…a lot! After all, God is truth, beauty, and goodness. So beauty is meant to permeate our lives, particularly our prayer lives.

As you can imagine, my gym church didn’t inspire anyone to converse with God. But walk into an old cathedral with soaring ceilings and gorgeous stained glass and your soul practically leaps out of your body. Why?

Because beauty matters.

As human beings with five God-given senses, we relate to God through the physical universe. That’s why our faith is full of wonderful smells and bells, as well as beautiful beads and books.

As a reflection of God himself, true beauty silently shouts “sacred,” “holy,” “divine!”

In fact, that’s one of the reasons I stopped using cheap, plastic rosaries when praying to Our Lady. I’ve discovered that a beautiful set of finely crafted beads helps me “touch” the transcendent beauty of God far more easily than the “run of the mill” rosaries that lie in a tangled mess in a basket on the shelf under the tv.

Seriously, we often take more pride in our iPhone cover than in the quality and beauty of one of the most powerful spiritual weapons in our arsenal.

But just like reading a leather covered Bible edged in gold foil feels different than a cheap paperback version, a gorgeously crafted, hand-made rosary changes everything.

Of course, it took me a while to realize this. For many years, I would just pray with whatever beads I could find.

But then a couple of years ago, a man in my Science of Sainthood community, Jonathan Conrad (aka the Catholic Woodworker), sent me two, absolutely stunning rosaries. I’m talking ridiculously beautiful, rock-solid, and just the right size (i.e. substantial, but not big enough to be used as a rope ladder or be mistaken for the belt of a barefoot friar).

Now they’re all I use.

I’ve got one in my briefcase for travel and one on my desk. In my opinion, they perfectly reflect the beauty and transcendence that’s essential to a life of prayer, particularly the rosary.

And not only does Jonathan create gorgeous Catholic rosaries, home altars, and such, he’s got a great story and I’m very happy to give him a “shout out” and send people his way.

So if you’ve already got a gorgeous, “go-to” rosary, wonderful. If not, I’d highly encourage you to head over to CatholicWoodworker.com and grab one or two. 

In fact, because of our relationship, he’ll give you a 10% discount if you enter SOS into the coupon box at checkout. (And guys…this is not a paid advertisement. I’m just telling you about a friend who makes truly beautiful rosaries as a family business.)

Regardless, I’d encourage you to make a serious effort to beautify your prayer life.

After all, if we are made for the undreamed of beauty of the Beatific Vision, doesn’t it make sense to begin striving for that kind of prayerful beauty in our communion with God now?

God bless you and may he fill you with all his truth, beauty, and goodness!

Matthew

P.S. New Art of Catholic coming shortly!

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16 Responses

  1. Very true. Thank you for enlightening me about beauty. I gave lots of beautiful rosaries but I keep them and using ones that are easily broken. I could now understand how beauty touches our senses and heightens our spiritually. I even jyst put the rosaries in my pockets got destroyed in the washing machine/dryer. Now I’ll take good care of them and appreciate the intricate beads that feel good to touch and lovingly pray the rosary

  2. Matthew, what is the name of this magnificent church, and where is it located?
    Thank you. The article is not a keeper, it’s a sender. and I am definitely sending it on. Thank you again. 😇

    1. That is the Basilica of Notre Dame in Montreal, Canada…and it is breathtaking. I’ve been inside and the picture doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. God bless!

  3. Thank you, Matthew, for this beautiful article! You gave me the answer I need when a non-catholic comment why Catholics waste money to have beautiful altars/churches! Perfect!!
    And I too will now start using my beautiful rosaries instead of keeping them . God bless you!

  4. Hi Matthew,
    Wow!Wow! I read your article with great interest indeed. Am humbled and indeed enriched by learning the connection between Beauty and God, and our Mother Mary. I will definitely pass your powerful message on and indeed purchase some Beautiful Rosaries for myself and make praying The Rosary part of my Life.
    Thank you so much Matthew for blessing me with this Wonderful message.
    God bless you for blessing others with His Wonderful word.
    Amen!

  5. Thanks Matthew but I have a special Rosary that has great meaning for me, its not like one of yours but one I’ve had since I first visited Lourdes as a child. Its a blue one blessed at the shrine and I’ve taken it there 3 times when I visited in trouble, To me its beauty is held by its memories and the tines Mary called me to visit that shrine for healing and connection with her. Beauty is also held in in meaning and memory.

  6. Thank you so much Matthew for always thinking of us and giving us powerful and unique informations to widen up our knowledge in our Faith and in our Lord Jesus Christ and in our Lady Mama Mary. The Queen of all and mother of Jesus Christ. And which she became our mother too.
    God Bless!!!!!

  7. Thank you for this inspirational article. I am a Rev. Sr. And managing our small repository in a small parish. I try to source for good, quality rosary and i sometimes make using stone beads, crystals, wood beads, never plastic beads. They are a bit more expensive but for a lot who appreciate beauty, they tell me it is worth it. I can buy a diamond earing, but use a cheap Rosary for the mother of my Lord???? People are begining to erect altars in homes, their “Sacred space ” for God. Tx for this.

  8. Thank you Matthew for this beautiful lesson. I especially liked where you explain the beauty of things like the rosary. I do disagree with you on one point. The plastic rosaries are at times given to people who cant afford to buy a more beautiful rosary and they are just a sufficient as a bought pair of fancy rosaries. Years ago at St. Matthews Church in Charlotte, N C I obtained a plastic pair of rosaries from a pro life group and this rosary is my favorite. It is in my purse and it is used when we pray the rosary before daily mass at Our Lady of Grace Church in Indian Land, SC. Father Jeffrey Kirby is our Priest. What ever rosary we use, Our prayers are heard.

    1. Absolutely, MaryAnn. There are often times when we have other reasons to be attached to certain rosaries. It might be memories of a specific event or some other sentimental value. And my point in the article is not to denigrate any kind of rosary in the least. They are merely a tool, not the prayer itself. My only point is that all things being equal, it’s easier for a human to be raised to eternal Beauty by something naturally beautiful.

      And I met Fr. Kirby in Greenville last week when we both spoke at the Marian Eucharistic Conference. He was great!

      God bless and thanks for your astute comment!

  9. Thank you Mathew for the message of beauty that we have been blessed with by Our Lady, I do love my wooden rosary that I can feel for under my pillow. I means a lot to me as I brought it from Jerusalem , baked in prayers ! It helps me to gain a peace and love for others.

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