Monday, June 28, 2010

Franciscan Crown - the stem

It's safe to say I sell more Franciscan Crown rosaries than anyone else at Etsy. They make up about half the sales through my Etsy shop. I've seen a couple of other sellers offer one or two of them, but they seem to think that all you have to do to make a Franciscan Crown is stick two more decades onto a "regular" rosary. That's not really true. The stem should be set up differently from the Pater-Ave-Ave-Ave-Pater pattern of a five-decade rosary, because it's used differently.

When praying the Franciscan Crown, you start immediately with the decades. The stem is used at the conclusion, instead of at the beginning as with a regular rosary. There are two sets of two prayers each prayed on the stem:

1. Two Aves which, with the 70 already prayed during the decades, commemorate Mary's 72 years on earth. (No, I have no idea who decided that Mary spent 72 years here, or whether that's historically true, but I do appreciate the symbolism of it.)
2. An "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" for the intentions of the pope.

So the traditional pattern for the stem of a Franciscan Crown rosary is: Ave-Ave-Pater-Ave (four beads). This is the pattern I use.

There's a more "modern" way of setting up the stem that uses: Pater-Ave-Ave-Pater-Ave (five beads). To my mind, the extra Pater bead confuses things. It's the pattern I was first introduced to, and I could never figure out how to use the stem - I'd just follow the instructions of what prayers to pray without worrying about the beads.

Not long after I started making rosaries, I happened across a pamphlet on the Franciscan Crown written in 1954. I was glad to see that the traditional pattern that I use for my Crowns was the only one mentioned. If you look at a variety of Franciscan Crown rosaries, you'll undoubtedly find some that use the newer pattern, and it's not incorrect. But setting up the stem as it is on a regular Catholic rosary is - incorrect, that is.

Here's a close-up of the stem of my most recently made Franciscan Crown, available for purchase in my Etsy shop. The Ave beads are small silver leaves and the Pater beads are the larger rounds.  

Note that because the stem is used at the end of the prayer, the pattern of beads leads away from the center rather than towards it:

Here's a picture of the entire rosary:

And, because I think it's pretty and it gives an idea of the variety available, here's the Franciscan Crown I made just before that one:

And here's a close-up of its stem, showing the beads in relation to the center and the crucifix:

There's a lot more to say about the Franciscan Crown, but that's all for now.


  1. J had me make him one awhile back and we referred back to your shop for the correct stem. I like how you work how from the center it is leading away from it. That's a nifty way of remembering the correct pattern.

  2. Thanks - I was hoping it made sense.