About prayer beads and the rosary
Catholic Rosary Beads -
The Rosary is an old prayer that is always new, leading us to Jesus through Mary. We can trace the beginning of the Rosary to the 12th century when the people who could not read or write would count their prayers on a string of beads. The word rosarius means a garland or bouquet of roses. An early legend connected this word with a story of Our Lady who was seen to take rosebuds from the lips of a young monk when he was reciting Hail Marys and to weave them into a garland, which she placed upon her head.
The Blessed Mother urged everyone to pray the Rosary during her apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. She called herself the 'Lady of the Rosary', and promised that the Rosary would help people grow in their faith, convert sinners and bring about world peace. The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7th when all are invited to meditate upon the mysteries of Christ, following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was so particularly connected with the incarnation, passion and glorious resurrection of the Son of God.
Anglican Rosary Beads -
Anglican Prayer Beads are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group. The prayer beads are made up of twenty-eight beads divided into four groups of seven called weeks. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven represents spiritual perfection and completion. Between each week is a single bead, called a cruciform bead as the four beads form a cross. The invitatory bead between the cross and the wheel of beads brings the total to thirty-three, the number of years in Jesus’ earthly life.
The use of the rosary or prayer beads helps to bring us into contemplative of meditative prayer—really thinking about and being mindful of praying, of being in the presence of God—by use of mind, body, and spirit. The touching of the fingers on each successive bead is an aid in keeping our mind from wandering, and the rhythm of the prayers leads us more readily into stillness.
Mala Prayer Beads -
Mala prayer beads are commonly used by Hindus and Buddhists, and they're usually made from 108 beads. Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name of a deity. The mala, or rosary, is used to count mantra recitations while helping to focus awareness and concentration. The goal is to feel the mala beads with the fingers, recite the mantra and visualise the deity at the same time - involving body, speech and mind.