There was a discussion of this over on Medtextl last summer I think. You
might check their archives. As I remember, the practice of using rose
petals for prayer beads started in the East (India?) and gradually moved
west. Karen Reeds discussed a lecture she had heard in which the lecturer
had passed out rose petal beads that he had made from medieval recipes.
Sorry I can't be more specific, but do check the archives. A reference,
which I haven't seen but that might prove helpful, is M. Chery, *Histoire
generale du rosaire et de sa confrerie* (1869).
Dr. Clinton Atchley
Department of English
Henderson State University
Arkadelphia, AR 71999
Email: [log in to unmask]
>From: Chris Laning [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2001 11:47 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Rose petal beads?
>(My apologies to anyone who's already heard me ask this question on
>Has anyone ever run into any *medieval* source that mentions beads
>made out of crushed rose petals?
>I'm asking because it is a popular modern notion that medieval
>rosaries were made of rose-petal beads, and that this is where
>rosaries got their name -- both notions being completely unsupported,
>as far as I've been able to find.
>Apparently there has been little scholarly work on the actual
>physical object, namely the *beads* of the rosary or paternoster, and
>their materials, manufacture, arrangement, fastening, et cetera.
>Most, if not all, scholars seem to be focusing exclusively on the
>history of the devotional practice (which is fascinating too, of
>course), including the recent and very good _Stories of the Rose:
>The Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages_ by Anne Winston-Allen.
>Most of the other citations I've seen that even *mention* the actual
>beads of the rosary refer to one book, Eithne Wilkins' _The
>Rose-Garden Game_ (1969). I can only say that it's not *quite* as bad
>as I remember from reading it many years ago. The text *is* rather
>heavily into the "mystical East" and a lot of its historical
>statements are simply not referenced; I suspect that means that most
>of them are unsupported hand-waving. However it *does* have more
>pictures of actual rosaries (and rosary paintings) than I've seen
>together in one place anywhere else.
>Anyway, I've been unable to find any references to beads made of rose
>petals before about 1920, and am still looking.