As everyone may know, I am Texan, Latina, and Catholic. There is nothing wrong with any of these characteristics but the one thing that I have always admired were the glass bead rosaries my Abuelita would pray with during church, funerals, and as a daily method of meditating.
In CCD, the first thing we learned was the Rosary and the Father gave each one of us a glow in the dark plastic cross. Rosaries have always had a spot in my jewelry case and helped ease my fears of the dark. My own rosary was bought at the Basillica in San Juan and was blessed by holy water. My mother bought it for me while I was still in college. It was a deep rose color. Since then I have always had a fascination with rosaries and for me it is a way to keep a part of my culture alive. Abuela has been gone for almost twenty years and I see her rosary hanging on her statue that is placed up on my office/working/now studio wall. I had a sudden urge to make one.
When my Abuela (grandmother) died, we had to pray for seven days. We prayed the Roaries and the Mysteries, the rhythmic clicking of beads, the murmured voices in unison, the picture of Abuela in the corner will forever be ingrained in my mind. You start with a Glory Be, an Our Father, and then 3 Hail Mary’s. As the rosary continues, the larger white-brown beads represent the Our Father’s and the smaller brown beads are the Hail Mary’s. In the end, you pray fifty-three Hail Mary’s and six Our Father’s. As I was stringing and clasping these beads, I realized that there is a lot of something going into this practice. Faith, love, respect, art and so on. It is not so different then the other prayer beads that are used in other religions.
Catholicism and the Latino community are so very interconnected that it is hard to tell when one part of our culture ends and another begins. It is as if being Catholic is just another part of who you are, a customary version of traditions and ideals that are passed down through the generations even when we are no longer Catholic.
My catholicism was a mix of indigenous folk tales, legends,prayers, and cleansings. I miss Abuela. I miss her placing the lace black veil over her head as she knelt in church. I watched as she bowed her head, her blue rosary hanging loosely between her hands. Praying, for what I may never know.
If you want to know more about the rosary here is a link.