Collections and Differing Faiths

Something that most people do not know about me is that I collect religious items. Most have been given to me, but there is one subset of my collections that I have bought for myself. That is the one that I think seems to shock people most of all when they happen to see this display.

See, I collect rosaries from cathedrals and churches that I visit. I was doing this when I was in Europe, because for many of the old churches there, the money from selling rosaries helps fund maintenance or restoration for the church. But also, I always was fascinated by rosaries. There’s something beautiful about a lot of them, which I suppose I have always been highly interested in.

The important part of this stems from conversations I’ve had with others. It seems to confuse, amuse or actually offend people that I, a pagan, collect rosaries. Interestingly, my Catholic friends do not care that I (obviously non-Catholic) collect rosaries for their aesthetic value. I also feel, as I visit a cathedral, I should do something to help support those who keep them open and available to visit to the public. The friends and people that have an issue with me collecting rosaries are actually my more Evangelical-bent friends, or those that are (interestingly) of pagan bents.

They say that I am disrespecting Catholics by buying rosaries. I suppose I never had considered that argument. When you consider that I have openly discussed with friend’s that are Catholic, and their very devout parents hear, that I am not Catholic, and yet I collect rosaries…and the family sees nothing wrong with it, I guess I’d never considered it. Also, I think I just assume that I am helping to support the cathedral or church itself, which is something I would always strive to do. For example, the Frauenkirche in Dresden, it is open to greeting people from all walks of faith. I don’t see how it could be problematic then.

I wonder what the problem is with my doing it. Perhaps it is an issue where I was not raised in a faith, and so I don’t understand intricacies. However, the objections that I have received have not come from Catholics. I would hope that my appreciation of the art that comes from these rosaries is not insulting anyone, but I suppose, given the fact that I have received complaints, that it does.

For me, rosaries are to be respected. They are religious artifacts after all. However, I observe them as pieces of art. I treat them with respect due to art, and to art that has religious ties to it. Nothing with that kind of tie to it is treated ill for me. I also look at it with the secondary function of rosaries sold by individual cathedrals and churches–they help to support the running of the building. If others want to have the same opportunity to see such a stunning location, I want to help ensure that the church is still there and operating for those people who wish to, to be able to see.

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I'm a bibliophile who loves collecting books. Definite cat person. Amateur historian and major geek, who loves all things Tolkien and Star Trek. I'm also fluent in German.

3 thoughts on “Collections and Differing Faiths

  1. We fully agree with the sentiments you express in your post. We’ve come across art, icons, architecture etc from all types of pats and traditions different from our own and yet these symbols can resonate with us on several levels. They may not be an expression we ourselves wish to work with, or be led to work with, but we still appreciate their beauty and significance, and respect their meaningfulness to those who employ them whilst walking their own spiritual path. Blessings….SRTB.

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  2. I also have quite a collection of rosaries- mostly given to me by various people when I was much younger. There is also a small collection of painted wooded icons on my Mom’s wall that I painted when I was small. It is my firm belief that beautiful things have value in and of themselves. I see no problem with your collection whatsoever.

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  3. I fully appreciate and understand from where you are coming from; you intent is the appreciation of the art form and in support of the history and architecture. You are doing nothing wrong by doing so.

    I was born and raised in a Roman Catholic family. Technically speaking, I am still one because they keep our names on their registry rolls. As a practicing solitary Wiccan, I think I can shed some light on their attitude and reaction to your rosary collecting. If I may.

    They may not have expressed themselves adequately, but this is the perspective they are coming from when speaking to you about it. The rosaries are ‘blessed’ and ‘sprinkled’ with Holy Water by a priest. It is a form of magic, they a believe powerful spell. They do not employ the words ‘spell’ or ‘magic’. But it is anyway. Without going into the intricacies, perhaps many modern Catholic don’t believe it so, but they did back just 50 years ago; and many (although all do) still do to this day. Several Popes and Saints did.

    Also, the rosaries and scapulars, contain ‘curses’ for those who are damned. Though we do not hold that belief, us non Christians, if we look at it from our own perspective, those items contain malice for those not of their faith. Those understanding this, would fear you would try to remove or repel their blessing and curse, so to protect yourself from it.

    Of course, this would be from their perspective, and then from ours. My saying this is just to shed light on their attitude and religious belief and practices… is all.

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