The Irish Penal Rosary: The Hidden Rosary

17 Mar

penal4  In the early 18th century, laws in Ireland kept  Catholics from practicing their religion openly.   Penal Laws of the day led Catholics to hide religious articles so that they would not be punished.   The Penal Rosary, a one decade rosary that could be hidden in a pocket or up a sleeve, was created for those wanted to pray the rosary secretly.

The Penal Rosary begins with a loop that slips around the thumb.   A capped Pater (Our Father) bead and  ten Ave (Hail Mary) beads  follow.    After the first decade of the rosary is said, the loop is moved to the first finger.  As each decade is completed, the loop is moved to the next finger.  The rosary is complete when five decades have been said.

penal3The Penal Crucifix contains symbols of the passion of Christ.   The jug shown near Christ’s right hand represents the chalice used at the Last Supper.  Instruments near Christ’s left hand symbolize cords used for binding.   The spear shown below  Christ’s right  side  represents the spear used at Calvary.  A ladder to Christ’s left refers to the act of crucifixion.

penal2The reverse of the Penal Crucifix contains additional symbols of the crucifixion.  The V shape in the middle represents three nails used for crucifixion.  The bird and container below it refer to the story that Judas betrayed Christ at the time of the crucifixion.

penal4The Penal Rosary is an appropriate form to use during the month of March.  It helps Catholics reflect upon the Crucifixion of Christ and recalls Irish heritage.

RosaryCollectorsGuideTo learn more about the history of the rosary, read The Rosary Collector’s Guide by Gloria Brady Hoffner and Helen Hoffner.  Published by Schiffer Publishing,  The Rosary Collector’s Guide is a 152 page hardcover reference book with more than 200 color photographs of rosaries, crucifixes, crosses, and center medals.  It helps collectors identify unique religious articles and explains their history.  The Rosary Collector’s Guide is available on, the Catholic Faith Store Online, Catholic Gifts, Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores, religious article stores, and online sellers.



2 Responses to “The Irish Penal Rosary: The Hidden Rosary”

  1. Giovanna Lottes March 18, 2017 at 12:16 AM #

    blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } How about that Very timely 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


  2. Relax... March 18, 2017 at 2:43 AM #

    That made me cry. (In an almost good way!) I am thinking I’d like some of those for next March. 🙂


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