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Our readers asked:

Can I wear a rosary around my neck?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

(CNS photo from UCAN)

My knee-jerk response to this was no, because that’s what the good sisters told me in Catholic school thirty years ago. But I did a little research, and found that it’s not quite as clear-cut as that.
On the one hand, it makes sense that the sisters told us not to drape rosaries around our necks. The rosary isn’t jewelry; it’s a sacramental, which is an object meant to help bring about spiritual effects through the prayer or devotion it inspires. (Sacramentals don’t have any sort of magic power in and of themselves; the positive graces come through the prayers.) Many people argue that if you wear a rosary around your neck, you are treating it more like a fashion accessory than a sacramental and are thus distorting its intended purpose.
On the other hand, many Catholics buy and wear rosary bracelets, which are like a decade of the rosary worn around the wrist. There are also rosary rings, in which small raised dots help people count off and keep track of their prayers. These are meant to encourage frequent prayer, and logically, if wearing a rosary around the neck does the same, it’s hard to argue that it’s wrong. And priests of the Dominican order wear the rosary hanging down from their belts, so clearly, the wearing of the rosary on the body is not a problem in and of itself.
The only official Church document I could find that addressed this, even obliquely, was the Code of Canon Law, which says, “Sacred objects, which are designated for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated reverently and are not to be employed for profane or inappropriate use even if they are owned by private persons.” (1171) So it seems that it all depends on the intent of the wearer. If you’re wearing it as a way to deepen your prayer life, there shouldn’t be any problem with that.

The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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  • Victoria

    I’ve been wearing mine after a bad dream I had about trying to fight the devil and one of his minions. It was pretty scary and I have a rosary my boyfriend’s mom gave me with St. Michael on it. So I wore that after I woke up and went back to sleep. I kept on wearing it under my shirt because I felt better and safer with it. I wasn’t raised Catholic, so I didn’t know the rules of the rosary and wanted to make sure I wasn’t being disrespectful. I wanted to know if me wearing it under my shirt was okay?

  • Marilyn Headings

    If the rosary had been blessed, I was raised to believe it was an instrument of prayer. Not to be played with.

  • sood

    hi..i got baptized in a church where they don’t believe in wearing any jewelry….and i came across the verse 1Timothy 2:9-10:”i also want women to be modest and sensible about their clothes and to dress properly;not with fancy hair styles or with gold ornaments or pearls or expensive dresses,but with good deeds as is proper for women who claims to be religious”.And what i understood is that one should give more importance to God than to riches and one should be simple. I understand that bible didn’t forbidden the use of jewels BUT yes BIBLE forbidden the EXCESS USE OF JEWELLS where a person forget God and boast and show their riches.So i want to know that if i am right..am not obsessed with jewels …and i want to know to wearing a simple earring is forbidden…Please help me with this…..Thank you

    • gooder1

      sood, Yes you have interpreted it very well. For example, if you have a job, that requires you to look professional, and well presented, then you must do what the job requires. For example, if you were a lawyer, or doctor, then you would need to present yourself well. If you work in the fashion industry, the same would certainly apply. Or if you just wanted to look good for your husband, then the sky’s the limit. But if you were only wearing high end jewelry out of vanity, then it has become your god.

      • sood

        thank you so much for this help…

      • JuliePurple

        Or if you wanted to look good for your wife, if she’s the kind who would be impressed with that sort of thing…

      • gooder1

        Yuk yuk

      • JuliePurple

        Why is that funnier than a wife dressing up for a husband? What’s different there?

      • gooder1

        That was merely a yawn mixed with a laugh. Not my cup of tea, but if it works, then, hey why not.

      • JuliePurple

        Nor is it mine nor my husband’s preference; we’re not impressed by externals. I was just wondering why you thought it was funny, when you gave no indication you thought it was funny for a wife to dress up for a husband.

      • gooder1

        The only reason is that these days there is a big push to neuter all people: women to look like men, men to look like women, and everything in-between. And I humor in that. People are welcome to do anything they want, but I am more of an original type. I am the last to go along with the crowd, if ever. I am not a leader, but also not a follower. I am an independent I guess you could say, and when I see people doing things just to follow what everyone else is doing, then I chuckle at it. I only follow Christ because he has convinced me that he is Truth. And you are correct that it is only what’s in the heart that matters.

      • JuliePurple

        I don’t see how a husband dressing to please his wife has anything to do with dressing to look like a woman. Not that there’s anything wrong wtih cross dressing, of course; but you’re reading something into my comment that isn’t there. If you’re implying that gender equality is the same as cross-dressing, I’m afraid you have a mistaken impression of both.
        You are correct if you are trying to say that there is currently more emphasis on gender equality, at least in the U.S. and most of Europe. That emphasis, or trend, if you will, is past due. To be independent of that particular trend and to see it as funny is to disrespect both women and men. To have equality for both sexes only seems “neutering” to people who are insecure in their own status.

      • gooder1

        Equality for both sexes is long since overdue. And I have always been a champion of that. Sorry for the misread.

      • JuliePurple

        Hi, Gooder. No worries. Nice to know you’re a champion of equality. It is tricky getting rid of the old stereotypes, isn’t it?

    • JuliePurple

      Hi, Sood, and welcome!
      The thing about jewelry and clothing and hairstyles and all that is, it’s all external. It’s not really that important. Someone who dresses with a lot of fancy clothes and jewels might be doing so because of a job requirement, and their only concern is the job. For example, a lot of charity fundraising events are hosted by someone who wears very fancy clothes. It’s part of the job. Whereas a person in very simple, modest clothing might not be able to afford really fancy stuff and be thinking a whole lot about how to be able to get it. Or they may be dressed inconspicuously in order to commit a crime. You just don’t know. A person’s actions are far more important than what they’re wearing or how they look. You can’t judge someone else’s heart.

      • sood

        thank u so much for helping out with my confusions…am so glad

      • JuliePurple

        You are most welcome, Sood. It’s hard to remember sometimes, not to judge by appearances, I know. But it’s good to bear in mind. A homeless person may be more intelligent than a person in a spiffy outfit; a guy dressed like a mororcycle tough guy may be kinder than a priest; you just don’t know what’s in a person’s heart.

  • JuliePurple

    Many cultures have a tradition of wearing japa malas (prayer beads) as necklace, bracelet, or ring. The idea is to keep the beads handy for use and as a reminder. True, some only wear them as a fashion statement, but whose business is it to tell them not to? Because nobody can really know why they are wearing whatever it is.

    • Micéal Mc Carthy

      bingo .. U… R ….Correct! ;)

  • Micéal Mc Carthy

    I wear my rosary every Sunday..for ME and my relationship with Jesus and actually Mary as well…and I wont stop….JESUS said WHOM ARE YOU TO CAST JUDGEMENT…and when one celebrates their relationship with God ….no matter what religion… in a peaceful manner ….. it is GOOD

    • fsandoval

      The rosary is not a piece of jewelry, the rosary is meant to be used in prayer. The judgement card? it’s over used and the only answer used to try and justify your righteousness. The judgement card is thrown when when there is no answer to defend your stance. Here is what your judgement card does.

      Matthew 18:15-17
      “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
      And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he
      neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a

      • Micéal Mc Carthy

        that is your opinion, I respect it, but truthfully, It does not affect any of my decisions. God Bless

  • solace024@hotmail.com

    I also always wear my Rosary. Some guy just said that he and his workmate have a go at people who wear it, challenging them to pray the Rosary with them. I think that would be an awful way of saying prayers. Yuck, that would be greater wrong, because that is judgement and condemnation in the heart, and that’s not love, and God is love so, sounds like it’s more wrong being of that thought. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s a way of witness and i think people who judge other Catholics like that are insecure and nasty. Unfortunate i ever had to meet one, because the track record had been good until this arguement i just got into. To be put down for wearing Rosary. How rude, and NOT of God.

  • Joseph Tamayo

    You guys need to read St. Louis De Montfort’s book “The Secret of the Rosary”! St. Louis De Montfort is considered to be the Leading authority on the veneration of the Holy Rosary. He is also a candidate to become a Doctor of Faith for the Catholic Church!
    This book has the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur which is the seal of the Catholic Church stating that this book is FREE OF HERESY! In his 27th chapter(27th Rose) he actually ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO WEAR THE ROSARY as a method of warding off evil spirits and receiving special graces. He quotes Blessed Alan’s account of a man who was possessed and who was only able to free himself of possession by WEARING THE ROSARY! He gives accounts of several others who wore the Rosary around their neck to battle evil spirits. If St. Louis De Montfort says it’s OK and the Catholic Church says it’s OK, otherwise they wouldn’t have placed their seal on this book, that’s enough authority for me. He also states that the person must be praying the Rosary and attempting to remain in state of grace. If a person is wearing the Rosary as piece of jewelry or with the intention of wearing it as a good luck charm THAT’S SACRILEGIOUS! If someone can show higher authority stating otherwise please let me know because there seems to be big issue about this. Peace be with you all Brothers and Sisters is Christ!

    • . .

      Very nicely spoken. You convinced me! You also have me seeking out readings by St. Loius De Montfort. Hey thanks again! God Bless +JMJ+

    • http://twitter.com/AnninaMT Annina

      Thank you. I always wear my rosary. It is dear to me (it has been placed on all the holy sites in Israel and has been blessed by a saint) and it is the easiest way not to lose it (since I use it regularly).

  • Suni Ibarra

    I am Episcopalian. I would think that it might be alright to wear a rosary around one’s neck if it brings them closer to GOD within themselves, and to help remember to pray. I have a disease that causes memory lapses. I would do better at remembering if I wore one. And I am old, disabled, and sick. It would help me feel more protected in my state, to have it close to me. And I have suffered the loss of a best friend and my eldest sister within the last 4 months.
    I have great need of solace, and a rosary would do this for me as well. Is there anything wrong with holding a precious sacramental close when I also am compelled by grief to hold the tiny mini urn that my brother-in-law gave me, with some of my precious sister’s ashes in it??????? I wish I had a rosary right this second – - -

  • olga

    I agree with Patrick .Im puertorican,I remember people would wear rosaries as a promise made for something they had prayed for,I used to wear it with pride to show my catholic pride and also sometimes because I had prayed for something,but that said some people wear it as a fashion item, when I see someone I say”I like yor rosary” but reading the posts hear makes me want to ask ask time if they are catholic or not and if they arent maybe I will let them know politely that its a sacred prayer tool for us catholis and that its disrespectful

  • Patrick

    It is also a cultural thing, many Hispanics wear the rosary around their neck and they mean respect not disrespect for the rosary. I think it is a mark of identity and everyone is always yelling about Catholic Identity. Here’s something very distinctly saying, “I’m Catholic.”

  • Laura

    I once heard a kid told by a mom, “Hey! Take that rosary off your neck. The rosary is a tool, not jewelry. You wouldn’t wear a hammer around your neck would you?” The teen got the point.

    • JuliePurple

      No, I wouldn’t wear a hammer around my neck, because a hammer is too heavy. I have worn small tools around my neck, though, to keep them handy. Small pincushion, needle case, small scissors, magnifying glass, pencil on a string, retractable tape measure, and so forth, would all be candidates for that.

  • Mary

    I have seensally of the gangs where I live wearing them. I like Tota Tua also go up and say, oh cool, you’re Catholic, which church do you attend? And when they say they’re not I tell them I’ll pray for them for showing disrespect to something so sacred.

  • np

    I’d seen an af-am guy in an airport in Cali wearing a large chotki ( – a form of pray ‘rope’ often comprised of precisely-made knots or beads popular in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. By the rest of his dress and accessorizing, shall we say…I’m pretty confident he was neither Orthodox or Eastern Catholic! but I don’t know that a chotki is considered anything of a sacramental, but there’s also the phenomena of wrist-sized chotkis. I’d seen them on people on the Metro, and struck up conversations thusly; they seem more explicitly a fashion ethnic statement to them – the opposite of Roman Catholics wearing chaplets! – since they all said they “just wear it”; one was a Maronite, two were Orthodox Serbs.

  • Marc

    I have never seen this fashion in Australia. I wonder whether it is better than gang necklaces though?

  • Ann

    When travelling around Australia, I learned about a small aboriginal settlement in northern Western Australia where there was a miracle on the beach over a hundred years ago, and they still go in procession to that spot, all wearing rosaries around their necks !

  • Lisa

    I have also witnessed this new “fashion statement” as far as the Rosary. Very recently, I’ve noticed about ten people with them around their necks. I asked one to let me see it, and I counted the beads. The decades were only five or six beads. I have to shut up, because in my neck of the woods, I’m happy that they aren’t wearing gang necklaces :-)

  • Lisa

    I wouldn’t dream of wearing my Rosary as a necklace. EVER. I do have a Rosary bracelet that I wear in case of emergency.

    • Micéal Mc Carthy

      ok as a bracelet but not around ur neck at your heart?????

  • Jules

    Oops, that last paragraph should have read that I doubt these people are “buying it for religious reasons”!!!

  • Jules

    The reason for wearing a rosary makes a difference. If the wearer is a Catholic, and finds it useful to use a rosary when it’s around the neck, then OK. But, most people wearing rosaries around their neck have no idea of what it is. Many jewellery shops where I live have rosaries hanging next to ordinary fashion necklaces. So people look at the rosary and think it’s just another version of the “cross”, which until recently has been a huge fashion statement.

    I somehow doubt that anyone, buying a rosary in a jewellery shop, is buying it for fashion reasons. So it does seem somewhat sacriligeous.

    • solace024@hotmail.com

      yeah when i’m at work or sitting bored and don’t feel like i can break out the Rosary beads (because of persecution) i run my fingers over the beads on my neck and say a decade that way. funny thing is that i encounter more opposition and persecution regarding wearing the Rosary from other Catholics. And that is a super ugly side i have seen a few times. It’s very unfortunate, very ugly.

  • Tota Tua

    what i love to do when i see someone wearing a rosary is say something like “hey I am Catholic also”. and when they go HUH, apologize and say that I thought since they were wearing a precious sacramental to Catholics – they had to be one.

    • shayne wynant

      Im 17 years old an I used to. Do the French prayer an the English one every night then she passed away I just started wearing a. Rozery around my neck and my mom disagrees with it 100% but I just started wearing it when i first put it on I wasn’t gonna use it for praying I was gonna wear it as a fashion but then I thought about my grandma and grandpa and started wearing it. Around my neck to remind me to pray I’m getting back Into praying to bless my passed but still loved relitives and for god to forgive me for my sins

      • shayne wynant

        Is that wrong of me sisters :.( I started wearing my rozery as a momentum to remind me to pray for my grandmas and grandpas every night like I did when I was young :.(

      • solace024@hotmail.com

        No it’s great and you should wear it because God knows and cares about the heart. Other people shouldn’t judge other people because they don’t know your heart, we hardly know our own hearts. It is they who are in error.

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