Determining the Age of a Rosary: Center Medals Honoring Saints

20 Jul

When collectors attempt to determine the age of a rosary, they turn first to the center medal as its shape, material, and topic yield many clues. When the center medal of a rosary honors a saint, the age can often be judged by the date on which the saint was canonized.


Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, was beatified in 1988 and canonized in 2000.

The medals referring to Katharine Drexel as Blessed Katharine Drexel were made between 1988 and 2000.


Medals referring to Blessed Katharine Drexel were made during the brief time period of 1988-2000.


Katharine Drexel was canonized ( declared a saint) in 2000.


Rosaries with a center medal referring to Saint Katharine Drexel were made after 2000.


Helena Kowalska, later known as Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, was beatified in 1993 and was made a saint in 2000. Rosaries made prior to 1993, refer to this holy individual as Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. Articles made between 1993 and 2000 may refer to her as Blessed Maria Faustina Kowalska.


Rosaries made after 2000 use the title Saint Maria Faustina.


Padre Pio, later known as St. Pio of Pietrelcina, was beatified in 1999 and canonized in 2002.


Rosary center medals made before 2002 refer to Padre Pio.


The rosary shown has a figure of St. Pio of Pietrelcina at the center.

Rosary centers that refer to St. Pio of Pietrelcina were made after 2002.

To learn more about unique rosaries, read The Rosary Collector’s Guide by Gloria Brady Hoffner and Helen Hoffner. This 152 page hardcover reference book has 240 color photographs of rosaries, center medals, crosses, and crucifixes. The Rosary Collector’s Guide is available on, Barnes and, the Catholic Faith Store Online, and other book stores, religious article stores, and online sellers.


Helen Hoffner and Gloria Brady Hoffner are often able to bring their rosary collection to show to church groups, school groups, and community organizations. To arrange a presentation or to ask a question about rosaries, contact them at



5 Responses to “Determining the Age of a Rosary: Center Medals Honoring Saints”

  1. geralynarango July 20, 2014 at 12:33 PM #

    I have what I think is my late uncle’s rosary, sterling, with an oval center medal with the Sacred Heart on the back and Blessed Mother on the front. It has a really pretty Art Deco looking crucifix and blue glass beads. Any guesses? I’m guessing it’s not too old, but curious. Thanks!


    • rosarycollector July 21, 2014 at 12:11 PM #

      The center medal with the Sacred Heart on one side and Our Lady on the reverse is the Mt. Carmel medal. Our estimate is that the rosary may have been made in the 1940s or 1950s. You have a beautiful family heirloom.


  2. anthony April 9, 2017 at 2:52 PM #

    Hi my name is ant king and my wife is Paige she has a set of rosary beads dating back about 100 years but could be older how do we get them dated as they been in family 100years


    • rosarycollector April 22, 2017 at 10:47 PM #

      Dear Anthony,
      I am sorry I did not see your comment sooner. I apologize for this tardy response.
      To determine the age of your rosary, start by looking at the Center Medal for clues. Look to see if the Center Medal and the cross appear to be the same age. That would let you know that nobody has tampered with the rosary. The Center Medal and style of crucifix are usually the best indicators of age.
      It is difficult to find an appraiser who is familiar with rosaries. Try jewelry appraisers.
      Best wishes.


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