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Rosary fashion prompts catechisis push in UK

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has issued an leaflet in response to the fashion trend among young people for wearing rosaries as necklaces and bracelets.

Zenit reports that the Liturgy Office of the Bishops' Department for Christian Life and Worship said that the wearing of rosary beads has become hugely popular this year, with jewellery shops reporting record sales.

"Apparently the rosary has recently joined the crucifix as a desirable secular fashion accessory," said Fr Allen Morris, secretary of the department. "However, unlike the crucifix, it is generally available only from religious suppliers rather than high street jewelers."

He added: "Some of these suppliers have expressed concern that those buying them should know something of the religious significance of the rosary. To that end, the Liturgy Office has prepared a simple two-sided A5 sheet in order that those so minded might make them freely available, even placing one in the bag with the rosary."

Kristina Cooper, editor of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal magazine Good News, has given many rosaries to young people and welcomed the leaflet.

"I live on a council estate in South London and many teen-agers there are really interested in the rosary," Cooper said. "When someone asks me for one I explain what it is for and ask them to show me that they have learnt the Our Father before I give them one.

Meanwhile in Brisbane, yesterday's Sunday Mail reported that rosary beads "are becoming as popular on the dance floor as they are in church".

Fashion stylist Abby Bennett said: "They are quite beautiful, so why shouldn't you wear something for pure beauty and aesthetics?"

The administrator of St Stephen's Cathedral in Brisbane, Father Peter Dillon, said the trend was fine, as long as young people recognised the religious significance rosary beads possess.

"I would like people to understand that the rosary bead does need to be respected," he said.

"I don't want the idea of the rosary beads cheapened by the attitude that they are only good for the beads.

"If people want to use them as a fashion item, then it would be good if they acknowledged their religious uses also."

The paper also sought comment from Christian politician Rev Fred Nile, who described the trend as "absolutely sacrilegious".

He said: "Young people should not treat the rosary with such indifference and use it in a cheap way as just a bit of jewellery."

Rosary Fad Prompts an Effort at Catechesis (Zenit 15/10/04)
Sacrilege or height of fashion? (The Sunday Mail 17/10/04)

More about the Rosary (Catholic Church in England and Wales)

18 Oct 2004