January 16, 2021

Alan Creech Rosaries: Great Gift Idea

Alan Creech is a good friend of this web site and is the Roman Catholic Liturgical Gangsta. He’s started a small home business project making hand-crafted, Franciscan, single decade rosaries. You can see them all- five varieties- right here. Alan will work out the details of ordering and payment with you via email at his site.

Even those who aren’t Catholic can use prayer beads as a focal point in prayer. I have a set of Anglican prayer beads that I’ve enjoyed the past year. Resources for various forms of prayer bead assisted prayer are easy to find. These would make a great gift (though a lot of orders might make Christmas delivery unlikely.) I’d like to see the IM audience support Alan in this little venture. Pass the word and spread a little liturgical cheer.

Check out all the various single decade Franciscan style rosaries/prayer beads at Alan’s web site.

(You could even give one to a fundamentalist kid.)


  1. Forgive me if this is off topic, but: give me a tangent and I’ll leap on it.

    I write a blog called Paternosters about the history of rosaries and prayer beads, and always welcome visitors, whether Catholic or not. I’ve linked it to my name on this post. I’ve got about four years of posts up there now.

    Also if you do an online search for “Paternoster Row” my basic history website usually turns up among the first few hits. (Oh, let’s not be falsely modest here… it’s usually hit #1, ahead of the actual London street by that name, which I find vastly amusing.)

    I have been noticing more and more prayer-bead-like things showing up in Protestant contexts (such as the “HIS-story bracelet”) and find them very interesting. They’re on my list of future things to write blog posts about. I can be e-mailed through the blog if you’re interested. I also wrote a series of posts about Protestants and the rosary in the blog awhile back that people may find of interest.

    (not meaning to derail the whole thread here…. 😉

  2. I was never a rosary guy. In fact i would actually dread it when my wife wanted to do one of the mysteries – I could feel the fatigue coming on (especially if we did them laying in bed).

    But then, as I focused more on the Gospels, I also focused on what each decade of the particular mystery represented – and realized that this was not just rote prayer, but meditation. That still does not mean that my mind does not wander, or I don’t get distracted, but when I am in the zone, and on top of my game from a focus perspective , I find it powerful. I consider it part of my prayer/meditation/contemplation tool chest.

  3. Thanks so much Michael. I’m humbled and very grateful that you posted this. I appreciate the support. Here’s looking forward to more hand-cramps and rosary orders. 🙂

    Maybe we should change your name to iPimp – jus’ a li’ll nickname. 😉 Grace and Peace to you my brother.

  4. BlaineFabin says

    Hey Alan thats great! I started making rosaries a few years ago too,, also make paternosters, chaplets, as well as some of the other prayer beads like chotki and such from the orthodox traditions. I actually have several of these in my work van which I use as I start driving each morning. I actually like using the paternoster the best.


  5. I had read a lot about the Rosary being a meditational tool, but never really experienced it until my grandmother died a couple of months ago. At the valorio my uncle led the joyful mysteries Rosary. He’d do the first half of each prayer while the family (well, the Catholic half, anyway) responded with the second half. The rythm and unity were really amazing. Fortunately, I had enough experience with Catholicism from both childhood and from recently dating a Catholic girl that I could really participate and get into it. Most of the other Protestants in the family really didn’t understand what was going on.

  6. Would someone mind explaining exactly how this works? I haven’t a clue. What is a decade? Is this the same as a bead? Thanks.

  7. Mike Cheek, a “decade” is 10 beads – just like a calendar decade is 10 years.

  8. Memphis Aggie says


    A decade refers to the ten “Hail Marys” you recite – one for each bead. The ten lesser beads are bookended by larger beads where you recite an “Our Father”. Most rosaries have 5 decades although some have seven. I like the ring rosaries which are metal rings with 10 beads or nubs that help you keep track count in the devotion. There are a whole series of devotions that can be aided with a rosary.

  9. I have NEVER been a Rosary person.
    BUT, iPimp…
    It kinda changes your entire perspective …

  10. Here’s a link for an ecumenical rosary prayer. The emphasis is not on Mary at all and would be much more comfortable for protestants to use. I have adapted this using a very beautiful rosary. It has made my prayer time more special.


  11. Look at the link I put in the middle of the post. Its prayers that use prayer beads but aren’t Roman or Marian. http://www.kingofpeace.org/prayerbeads.htm

    Can the guy who makes orthodox prayer beads put his address or website up here?

  12. A while back, I made me a set of the ones you mentioned, iMonk. I like the way it’s a very flexible system. I think the materials cost me a total of $5 at a craft store.

  13. That is beautiful and yet functional. I have seen rosary beads that are far too ornate for daily use. I think that is why they end up draped over rear-view mirrors.

    The “Lutheran” Rosary (I know…the ol’ boy is probably rolling over in his grave at the very thought of it) doesn’t require the “Hail Mary”; the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”, can be used instead. I find Mary’s fiat works well, too. There are alternatives to the particular glorious mysteries that protestants might have issues with. An explanation of the “Lutheran” rosary (I don’t think any synod actually endorses it) is available at:


    The ELCA has a Lenten rosary devotional available on their website.

    I could write thousands of lines on the subject. Suffice to say, the Rosary is gospel-centric. It was meant to teach the gospel story. The counter-reformation and the Counsel of Trent may have altered it in a slightly reactionary way, but it is still a sound prayer aid.

    I would also recommend Luther’s commentary on the Magnificat. I think one can find in there a basis for a balanced, biblical honoring of Mary.

    And, of course, my favorite book on the Rosary is “Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy” by J. Neville Ward. It looks like it is out of print again, but it still available on Amazon.

  14. As a protestant with virtually no experience with rosaries,

    (1) I did hang one in my Humvee while deployed in Iraq for a year (not for luck as much as it was just nice to see a cross while driving around all those mosques all the time)

    (2) I was always very impressed by Robert Redford’s rendition of the rosary in A Bridge Too Far –


  15. For those who might have, as dumb ox says, issues with some of the Glorious Mysteries, they could try using the Luminous Mysteries as a kicking-off point:


    Pope John Paul II instituted them as a means of concentrating on Christ’s public ministry: “To bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary, it would be suitable to…include the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion.”

    Even Luther said you could pray the first half of the Hail Mary without quibbling 😉

  16. Catholic friends:

    Please recognize that Protestants don’t want to pray the Marian doctrines.

    Thank you


  17. iMonk: Please recognize that Protestants don’t want to pray the Marian doctrines.

    Of course not, and for perfectly reasonable reasons.

    But there is not, and never has been, only one “correct” way to use the rosary, if one uses it at all. (Even though many Catholics are not aware of this…) Anyone uncomfortable with the traditional prayers or meditations is perfectly free to use something else.

    I won’t repeat here what I’ve already written elsewhere, but my take on the Catholic/Protestant rosary issues is here if anyone is interested:

    Protestants and the Rosary
    Protestants and the Rosary II: Worship, honor and the Virgin Mary
    Protestants and the Rosary III: Addressing Saints
    Protestants and the Rosary IV: Can Protestants hail Mary?

    (And I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, either ;))

  18. I-Monk, that’s for the info on the prayer beads. I’ve already ordered a set. I am going to have my own version for how to use them since I am not familiar with liturgy. I think I’ll start with the Lord’s prayer, Jesus Creed, etc. and build from there… I have been thinking about incorporating them somehow into my prayer time since you mentioned them some time ago.

  19. “Please recognize that Protestants don’t want to pray the Marian doctrines.”

    Oh, sure – no problem there (though the first Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation, and yeah, that’s a Marian doctrine, but it’s even more a Jesus-doctrine, and the Sorrowful Mysteries are all the events of the Passion) 🙂

    But that’s why I suggested the Luminous Mysteries – they cover events in the public ministry of Christ and can be used as a starting point for meditative/contemplative prayer. No need to say the Hail Mary, either, if that squicks anyone – there are times when the only prayer I can pray is the Doxology (the Glory Be), so whatever is good for everyone.

    The Fatima Prayer is also used when completing the rosary, so I think probably most everyone would be comfortable with praying “O My Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”

    Well, maybe except for the really hard-core double predestination ‘there’ll be no butter in hell!’ types? 😉

  20. Actually, I don’t have a problem with the glorious mysteries concerning Mary. I believe there is convincing evidence in tradition for the assumption of Mary. Some scholars believe Luther upheld the assumption of Mary.

    According to Jenny Schroedel, author of “The Everything Mary Book”, Zwingli was even more devoted to Mary than Luther.

    I really think the divide between Catholics and Protestants concerning Mary isn’t as wide as perceived. Once Mary is thrown out of the picture, the incarnation of Christ isn’t far behind.

    I actually credit John Paul II for sparking my interest in the rosary, when he declared the year of the rosary a few years back.

  21. If the use of prayer aids is perceived as a way to subtly move a person towards a conviction they believe is wrong and unBiblical, the whole matter will just go in the trash can of things evangelicals can’t appreciate. That’s why apologetics for the IC and the Assumption really take us in the entirely wrong direction. An evangelical who is comfortable praying to Mary is not a typical evangelical. I’m as Catholic friendly as they come, and those doctrines are in the top three reasons I could never consider the RCC. And evangelicals, contrary to reports, do not view their spiritual fathers as inerrant.

    We need to change the topic. Marian devotion is not why I wrote this post. That’s a dead end discussion between Catholics and evangelicals.

  22. BlaineFabin says

    If a person has a problem with mary there are several other types of prayer beads/ropes that they could venture into.. The one I use the most is a pater noster and the prayer you use is the Lords Prayer. Also there is no reason that one couldn’t make up their own program to use. For instance when I use the paternoster I have improvised by starting with an act of contrition and for the beads that separate the decades (set of ten beads) I pray the Hail Mary and recite the nicean creed. Though to be honest I really do think that people need to get past the whole anti mary thing… When I went post evangelical that was one of the first things I got past for the very simple reason that it was no different than anything else that got manipulated by Fundamentalists.

  23. iMonk,
    This is a wonderful post. I have always wondered how the prayer beads are employed, and like many others, wondered if the beads were exclusively wed to the Rosary. Evidently not.

    Thanks again. I’m looking forward to constructing some of these for my family and friends.

  24. I wouldn’t be too quick to claim Luther’s posthumous tolerance for prayer beads — a copy still exists, in the library of the University of Jena, of a rosary handbook in the margins of which Martin Luther wrote “Where the devil do so many and various lies come from?”


    The conference on the history of prayer beads that I went to in Leiden last spring included on the panel an Evangelical Lutheran pastor who was very scathing (and funny) on the topic of prayer beads — her point was basically, who needs prayer beads when we have Scripture to tell us how to pray? It was a very interesting exchange of views (and quite friendly on both sides).

    My own experience — as having been brought up Congregationalist, now a rather idiosyncratic Catholic — is that Catholics often don’t really understand why their rationalizations and explanations of the rosary irritate Protestants.

    For instance: Yes, the first two sentences of the Hail Mary are straight out of the Bible, but in the Bible they are not prayers — they are greetings spoken to a human person. Justifying them as “scriptural prayers” requires making a lot of other assumptions: that it’s okay to mentally address someone who died long ago, for instance (what Protestants refer to as “praying to saints”), or to use the word “prayer” to refer to that process. Protestants generally don’t buy those assumptions, but Catholics don’t always understand that there are assumptions involved. Yes, Protestants have no problem with repeating those Bible verses in the proper context, but turning them into prayers is quite a different story.

    I’ve also noticed — rather to my amusement — that the stories longtime Catholics most often tell about Protestants who do pray the rosary always seem to end (oddly enough) with the Protestant becoming a Catholic — talk about a “slippery slope!” {grin}

    When pressed on this point, Catholics will realize that this isn’t a realistic or helpful way to put things, but they often don’t see why it would be offensive to Protestants until someone points it out to them. For the record, I do hear from plenty of Protestants who have used rosary beads, either with the traditional prayers, or more often with some quite different set of prayers, who assure me they are in no danger of becoming Catholic! And the rosary certainly wasn’t a factor in my own spiritual migration either.

    I suppose the main point I want to make, though, is that even within the Catholic tradition, there is no necessary link between prayer beads and the sort of ideas about Mary that make Protestants uncomfortable (although Catholics sometimes believe there is). There is nothing inherently “Marian” about a string of beads, and in fact, prayer beads were used with the “Our Father” as early as the 13th century (hence the name “paternoster”). Catholics have used throughout history, and continue to use, prayer beads with other prayers, ones that Catholics and Protestants can both relate to.

    One of the Catholic prayers I have grown to particularly like is the concluding prayer of the Angelus. I think it’s also a particularly appropriate prayer for Advent.

    “Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Grace into our hearts; that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”

  25. What’s the big deal if some ADD person prays like me in a more concentrated way with an aid? Will we fight over anything? Sheesh. Is this a competition to see who is more spiritual? “You’ve got beads, but I’VE GOT A BIG BIBLE.”

    C’mon. It’s ridiculous.

  26. The point is that prayer beads – whether the rosary or other prayers entirely – help me to focus. That focus may be on a particular event in scripture, or on Jesus, or on a particular request. It helps keep the secular distractions at bay…

  27. Memphis Aggie says

    I think the original rosaries were used to pray the Our father 50 times or the Psalms at 1 Psalm per bead (that would take forever). The idea is that once you have a rhythm going, and if you can concentrate by avoiding distractions, the beads can help you achieve meditative prayer more easily.

    The addition of fixed concepts to focus on for each day and decade and the support of a group all praying the same prayer is really sustaining. Obviously the Catholic use is deeply Marian, but certainly, with some adjustments the practice and concepts can be used more broadly. There are other chaplets (St Gertrude Chaplet and the Divine Mercy) that that use the beads of a standard rosary. Of course these two examples although less Marian are still distinctly Catholic and may put off some Protestants. The point is the structured prayer helps make is much easier to sustain prayer longer and offer it up more frequently.

  28. I could easily see using these for the recitation of the Small Catechism (a kind of Lutheran rosary, so to speak). I’m going to pick one up and take it for a test drive. The tactile sense is as important as the other senses in devotion. We Protestant types tend to put a premium on hearing (and rightly so!) followed by seeing (whether stained glass, icons, or PowerPoint). Smell and touch are important too. These strings of beads seem beautifully crafted and fitting for devotional use.

  29. BlaineFabin says

    I don’t see any reason why a person cannot use beads as well as a bible… or whatever works for that matter. Using beads often incorporates the bible, such as portions of the hail mary, the lords prayer or reciting psalms, and one could really add to that whatever portion of scripture they want. Keep in mind that some of these traditions started during times when people didn’t have a big bible available to them and so these were ways to meditate upon certain portions of scripture.

  30. As someone already said at some point there – there is no one right way to pray the, or “a” rosary, or prayer beads, whatever you want to call them. They are a helpful prayer and meditation tool that were developed somewhere along the way, to help us focus. This is how I use mine – as a focus tool, a meditation tool.

    Sure, I pray the Hail Mary, asking her to pray for whatever I’m meditating about, or perhaps for someone or some situation. I know most Protestants aren’t going to do that – no problem. Pray another prayer in it’s place – fine. Pray the Glory to the Father, to the Son…. etc. Pray the Jesus Prayer or some form thereof. Pray and meditate on memorized Scripture passages or the Our Father – something that helps focus you and draw you in a unitive direction with God.

    I find it helpful, as I hinted there, to use them as I’m interceding for people or things – to lift that person or situation up as I’m praying the prayers. Or even just as a down-time kind of mumbling sort of meditation so that it becomes a sort of prayer of “groaning” as it were. Hey, they’re my rosaries so I’m tellin’ you pray with them however works well for you – so there! ha! As long as it’s in a generally Christian way of course – no pagan rosary prayin’ please.

    Thanks again to Michael and to all those who’ve ordered rosaries in the last couple of days. My hands are good and sore! Peace.

  31. When I was firs praying the “Rosary” (though I substituted Jesus Prayer’s for Hail Mary’s) I switched the final two glorious mysteries from Mary to the Church, since Mary is the icon of the Church. Not the assumption of Mary, and not the coronation of Mary, but the future(?) assumption of the Church and the future(?) crowning of the Church as queen of heaven and earth.

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