Medieval Paternoster: Red Crosses with White Beads and Skulls
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The Paternoster is the Medieval forerunner to the Modern Rosary.
Paternoster beads were used to keep track of prayers while praying, in particular when reciting the 150 psalms. The church deemed that for laypeople, especially those who could not read, reciting the Pater Noster or Our Father was a suitable substitute for any psalm they did not know, hence the name Paternoster given to the string of beads. These beads were often divided into groups (often groups of ten called decades but early beads especially feature other groupings) and separated by a larger or more decorative bead where the Ave Maria or Gloria Patri was recited. Sometimes people would instead recite the Ave Maria on the paternoster beads making a “At Mary’s Psalter”
This is a ten decade lineal Paternoster featuring white bone Pater beads, skull ave beads and red crosses.