Rosary or 'Paternoster'

Contributed by Mary Rose Trust

A simple Rosary or Paternoster found on the wreck of the Mary Rose during the underwater excavations  © Mary Rose Trust

Although using a rosary had been banned, the sailor who owned this wasn't going to stop praying the same way as always!This simple set of prayer beads was found inside a closed cabin that we know from all the tools found in the same area belonged to the ship's carpenter. It would have helped him to say his prayers.

But in 1538, injunctions of Henry VIII's religious reforms banned people using the rosary to pray mechanically and in 1547 all use of the rosary was condemned. Lay people possessing them were to be warned by the clergy. Yet in 1545 this rosary was on board the Mary Rose - the King's ship - and we can assume the beads were still in use. Was the owner still a practising Catholic - or just someone who had been praying with a rosary for so many years that he was not going to stop praying that way even if he could get in trouble if discovered? Had the Mary Rose not sunk that day in July 1545 his secret would have stayed with him.

The rosary offers us an insight into this tumultuous period of history including Henry VIII's break with Rome.

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Not long before the 19th July 1545


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