Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Name of the Rosary

While editing and rewriting sections of my novel about medieval France I have been researching the development of the rosary. I came across a fascinating blog called Paternosters which was a name given to prayer beads in the medieval period. Here is an article about the origins of the the word "rosary" which I found quite interesting. To quote:
To get back to beads, however, traces of the earlier meaning of bid/bede as "a prayer" still remain. For instance, a wealthy patron in the Middle Ages may have supported poor bedesmen, who had promised to pray for the patron, and may have provided a bedehouse for bedesmen or bedeswomen to live in. Likewise, “bidding one’s bedes” in the Middle Ages does not so much mean praying with a literal string of beads, as it means praying for one’s bedes, that is, the people or requests one is obliged to pray for.
The word “rosary” originally meant a garden devoted to the growing of roses (c1440, “This mone is eke rosaries to make, with setes [seats]”)....Probably both the rose-garden concept and the book title contributed to the idea of referring to a collection of written prayers and devotions as a (metaphorical) rosary, such as the 1526 Rosary of Our Savyour Jesu or the 1533 Mystik sweet Rosary of the faytheful soule.

From here it was a short step to applying the term “rosary” to the specific prayer practice we have been discussing, including its string of beads.

Other European languages also call the rosary by a name referring to roses. In German it is a rosenkranz, in French a rosaire, in Italian and Spanish a rosario, and in Hungarian it is a rózsafüzért (literally a “rose string”). However in Austria it is more commonly a betschnur (“prayer string”) and in France, often a chapelet.

4 comments:

Mary333 said...

I recently read a book from the library that discussed the origins of the rosary, it was a fascinating book filled with old marian psalters and prayers. I want to say it was called, "The Mystery of The Rose", but I'm not quite sure. I clicked on the link, the article was very interesting. As a matter of fact, I marked it so that I can go back and read more.

elena maria vidal said...

It is an interesting site, very scholarly.

Julygirl said...

I enjoy learning he origin of words. I had read that about rosary in relation to roses for our lady, but did not know about the beads,/bedes connection.

tubbs said...

I used to be puzzled by artistic portrayals of Father Luther on his deathbed with a rosary in his hands, ( invocation of saints and all that ). Then I found out that the "Sancta Maria...ora pro nobis..." part was added to the Hail Mary by a later Pope. (possibly after Lepanto?)

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