May is the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary and this is the third post of May 2020 related to the Blessed Virgin (not a series, just a post). Tonight I’m going to share a few passages from a book about the Rosary that a friend of mine shared on Twitter. (For the life of me I can’t remember if it was Mike or someone else now, sorry! When I find out, I’ll update this note.) The book is The Rosary Guide for Priests and People, by Fr J. Procter, FI, S.T.L., published in 1901. I do ❤️ good, old, Catholic books!
Now I’ve read before about the word “bead” coming from the word bede, meaning to pray. (I do tend to look up the etymology of words, a habit from when I got my first dictionary in the fourth grade, a red Thorndike-Barnhart hardback that I read every day after school. I wonder if it’s still around here somewhere. But I digress.) I knew that way back in the far distant past, people counted prayers by means of pebbles and by things resembling our modern day rosaries. (Or the beads connected by string or metal. The Rosary proper refers to the prayers and meditations, not really the beads.)
But the author mentions some things I didn’t know or at least don’t remember reading before.
Bede is “the past participle of the Saxon word biddan, which means to pray. We have a relic of it to-day in the Flemish ‘bidden fur uns’ so familiar to the ear of the Saxon in his visits to Belgian churches, and in the German ’bitten’ and ‘bitte.’ A ‘bead’ was originally a prayer. To ‘bid the beads’ was to say one’s prayers. A ‘bede (or bead)-roll’ was a list of those to be prayed for. A ‘bead- house’ was an almshouse for beadsmen, a ‘beads man’ living there on condition of his praying for the soul of the founder. A’ beadsman’ might also be one who voluntarily prayed for another. In the ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ Proteus says to Valentine:
"When thou dost meet good hap; and in thy danger,
If ever danger do environ thee,
Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers,
For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine."
Continue reading “On the Rosary”