I was raised in a Catholic home, but I like to think I have had adequate religious exposure.  In high school, my best friend was Jewish. To this day, I have many friends of different denominations as well as religions. I respect other religions' traditions, especially. Tradition is something I feel we all should respect (of course the Catholic girl says that), and even if I don't understand or agree, I respect it.

Walking around campus, something has been bothering me. I've expressed this annoyance to my friends; some understood, others asked for explication. Here's the thing: I've seen many people, males and females, wearing rosaries around their necks as ornamental additions to their outfits.

Rosaries are a very special symbol and prayer guide for Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans. They are not meant to be worn around the neck; they are meant to be held and prayed with. Each bead symbolizes a prayer, and "saying the rosary" takes quite a bit of time. One must take each bead at a time and recite (silently or aloud) the prayer it represents.

Rosaries are not meant to be worn as necklaces, and it is somewhat of a Catholic rule not to do so. The rule may seem silly or outdated to some, but this is a tradition I have no trouble comprehending. If anything, have respect for the rule.

If wearing the rosary around the neck, it should be worn under clothes, so no one can see. This is not to hide one's faith, but rather not to have to feel the need to flash it in everyone's face. If one feels the absolute need to carry their rosary around, one can keep it in his or her pocket and take it out when he or she would like to pray with it. To wear it out of your clothes is to treat it as a talisman rather than a sacred item.

Furthermore, if you do wear a rosary as a necklace, you are putting a huge burden on yourself. Wearing that rosary commits you solely to positive behavior. Cursing, acting irrationally, being rude or impatient all ruin the concept of the rosary, thus disgracing the tradition.

A friend pointed out to me that it is everyone's right to wear a rosary if they'd like. He said it's not illegal, and no one is going to punish them for it. He's right, but it's also up to them to accept the consequence of their actions. I drew an analogous relationship between those who wear a rosary as a necklace and a thief. If a thief steals something (and is caught), he or she is tried in court and punished by the judicial system.

I am not saying that if you wear a rosary ornamentally, you will be put in jail. I'm not even saying you'll go to hell or anything drastic like that. The consequence of not respecting the tradition of the rosary is offending a large quantity of people (approximately 1.26 billion people worldwide).

Is wearing a rosary so important that you would risk offending that many people? It's rude, disrespectful and ignorant. If you are going to adopt an aspect of someone else's culture, denomination or religion, you could at least educate yourself on the topic in order to avoid offending people.

I would not string two kippahs together to make a bikini top. I would not burn a cross. I would not throw the American flag on the ground and start stomping on it.

There are plenty of beautiful crucifix necklaces out there. If you would like to display symbols of Catholicism, you are more than welcome to purchase a crucifix necklace.

Otherwise, please have respect for our religion and leave your rosary out of your outfit plans. Respect traditions, even those you do not understand.

Wendy Morell is the the opinion editor of The Reflector. She can be contacted at



(2) comments


You are not a talisman by wearing a rosary outside your clothes. If you think it will give you luck or use it superstitiously then you will be one.


I was raised Catholic and as an adult have since converted to baptist. But, one thing I remember as a child and still to this day respect, is something my grandmother once told me. She was a devout Catholic. (I am 54). I had a rosary around my neck and she asked me to take it off and told me that we don't wear them. We pray on them. It never made sense to me but I have never worn one one since. I now know as an adult why and it's just respectful to the Catholic religion so I just wear my crucifix on a chain for adornment. And if need be, carry the rosary for prayer. (I don't do much ghost hunting so don't seem the need for prayer beads. Simple folding of the hands suffice for me).

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