Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Rosary project: Heraldic Rosaries

Have you ever noticed that a rosary naturally takes a shield shape when you hold it by the middle of the first and fifth decades?

This seemingly useless tidbit was going through my mind a while back when I become fascinated with the rich symbolism and art of ecclesiastical heraldry, thanks to Fr. Jessie Somosierra, Jr.'s blog at

Then the inspiration hit...could we transfer one shield design to the other and have a heraldry-inspired rosary?

Luckily I happened to have a few different color beads on hand, including the right ones for the coat of arms of my childhood archdiocese of Philadelphia:

Compare with the Philadelphian Archdiocesan coat of arms in the pic below. It proved fairly easy to just imagine the rosary in a shield shape and then transfer the colors of the coat of arms to the beads. I used a spare crucifix I had and I like the way it turned out, but I am considering cutting a custom cross shape if I do another. Here are some more ideas:

I never did find a good way to add the elephants!

In case you want to try designing your own heraldic rosaries, here is a full-page template that you can print out and color. I've left the crucifix/medal out so you can draw that in yourself.

And just a quick note: if you are researching the coat of arms for your diocese you may find images where it is combined with the personal arms of the bishop on a single shield. In those cases, the diocesan arms will be always on the left side. Just extrapolate that left half across the whole shield and ignore the right half.