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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.

 
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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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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Steve

    I’m a coin collector and recently i bought an old roman coin from the emperor arcadius era, 4-5th century, whose daughter worshiped Mary and helped inspire believers in prayer directly to her. I find it interesting that at different points in our history that Jesus has inspired governmental powers to advance Christianity. For example, a major influence on Christianity was the roman emperor Constantine, 4th century era, when he made it the religion of the roman empire.

    However, I wrote mainly to say that periodically i wear my rosary as an expression of faith partly in view of the heightened threats we are facing in the world and partly because it helps me deal with the increased awareness of the spiritual wasteland around us by linking to the spiritual comfort the rosary gives me and, in my belief, its power through prayer. I cannot prove that but i do believe i feel it. Many of course deny that such a thing is possible. However, I have noticed that some people act surprised and even almost stunned as if i am committing some transgression when they see me wearing the rosary. I really don’t want to put people off but maybe its the very rosary itself with its power that causes this reaction when they see it. That as it may be, I see a lot of people putting the rosary on their rear view mirrors almost like a fashion statement. They feel fine with that I guess but it seems a bit naive and perhaps they wouldn’t need to put one there if they just tried to drive more safely. This Syrian Christian obviously believes in the power of the rosary in a more serious expression of faith. Anyway, I liked your response.

    • Not Falling For It

      “I’m a coin collector and recently i bought an old roman coin from the emperor arcadius era, 4-5th century, whose daughter worshiped Mary and helped inspire believers in prayer directly to her. I find it interesting that at different points in our history that Jesus has inspired governmental powers to advance Christianity. For example, a major influence on Christianity was the roman emperor Constantine, 4th century era, when he made it the religion of the roman empire.”

      What was the point of all this? Just felt like doing a little Catholic Church bashing?

      • Steve

        Actually the only bashing is in your head since you’rer not seeing the connection of how Catholicism( and the Rosary )has been influential and advanced by by its community and leaders. It’s called the power of prayer.

  • Anibal Rodriguez

    Simple answer Victoria, yess you can wear it, if you do it with respect, specially under your clothes so its not visible, better yet if you use it once in a while to pray then put it back around your neck. that way wherever you go if you have time you can pray the rosary. If its blessed its a sacramental that can help ward againts evil but its not an amulet that has any magical properties.

    • Steve

      I do not believe in “score keeping” acts as discussed in the bible but i don’t believe we have to go around hiding a light under a bushel basket (let your light shine before men). Certainly clergy are not ashamed to wear the rosary in public. I do think it needs to be done with respect.

      I do feel that Christians need to stand up as we have sometime had to do historically if we are to survive. Not all of us are meant to be saints and defending our families and communities and way of life is not, in my opinion, sinful. Christians, and other religions in America, would like to settle problems in the world and around us peacefully but even Christ acknowledged the need to render to government those things that are of government and to god those that are of god. To me, that means respecting a need for government to operate as it must for the people.

      Thus, wearing a rosary does not make me, as some Christians believe, weak and unable to believe in a governmental force for good if needed. Too many people see Christians as push overs and unable to defend themselves, their families, and their communities but we can do this if necessary when “turning the other cheek” doesn’t work. I think wearing at times and praying the rosary is one way a Christian can gain God’s wisdom especially in these times.

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