Centers Crosses Chains & Links  Design Eras

Timelines - Styles & Construction



Center Medals



Many early rosaries did not have center medals or had simple blocks of wood at the join of the beads.



'Puffed' heart center medals, usually with a Marion monogram, were especially popular in Germany and Belgium.



Center medals only became common toward the end of the 1800s. Rosaries made through the mid-1860s commonly had simple heart-shaped center medals depicting the Sacred Heart, Mary, or a stylized M.  Inverted ones bearing Marian monograms were the first. .

Toward the end of the 1800s and into the early 1900s, it's common to find center medals facing "upside down".

Miraculous Medals were first struck in 1830, but the medals weren't used for rosary centers until late in the 1800s.



Scapular center medals (Sacred Heart of Jesus on one side and Our Lady of Mt Carmel on the other) become popular about 1910.






Crosses / Crucifix



Through the mid 1860s, rosaries frequently had simple crosses without a corpus.



Separately Nailed Feet

Showing the feet side by side, with a nail in each, is common in crucifixes before approx 1830. More recent crucifixes occasionally show the feet this way, but overlapped with one nail is the usual configuration.



Skull and crossbones

The skull and crossbones often shown at the bottom or old crucifix are intended to show triumph over death. They also commemorate the site of the crucifixion on Golgotha, the "place of skulls". Sometimes inaccurately called a Momento Mori, or remembrance of death - although that term really applies to skull beads.




Composite crucifixes: In the Victorian era (1837-1901), composite crucifixes were common. These crucifixes might be a combination of a wood cross wrapped with aluminum or brass, and a metal corpus. Metal crosses with a thin layer of wood or mother of pearl inlay were also popular and featured a metal corpus. Celluloid was another popular layering material that sometimes took on the appearance of ivory, tortoise shell, or mother of pearl.



Stamped Metal crucifixes were also common during the Victorian era, including those which featured a crucified Christ on one side and Mary or a crucified St. Wilgefortes on the reverse.



Stanhope Peepholes: Tiny peephole viewers followed the invention of the photograph in the mid 1800's. They were especially popular from 1870 - 1920s, and were still made at the end of the 20th century.



Pardon Crucifix

Approved and promoted by Pontifical Rescript onJune 1, 1905. Ecclesiastical Sanction, January 15, 1907 .



I am a Catholic... In the mid 20th century many rosary crucifixes had the message, "I am a Catholic. In case of emergency please call a Priest." or "I am a Catholic. Please call a Priest." inscribed on the back. Military rosaries tend to have the second expression whereas non-military rosaries tend to have the first. Though you can still find some crucifixes with this language today, it was mostly discontinued by the 1970s.



Scorzelli Crucifix Lello Scorzelli was born in Naples in 1921 and died in Rome at the age of 68. His best known work is the staff with the rugged crucifix on top that was created for Pope Paul in the mid-1960s. The piece has become closely identified with the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, and remains the model for the crucifix on the rosaries Pope Benedict gives to his guests.