I've always admired sturdy rosaries. 

Like every Catholic, I need one that doesn't tangle while being transported in my pocket. I'd like one with a little heft to it to make me consciously slow down as I pray with them.

Though some may enjoy them, I’m not one for pretty, pastel colors for fear they'd clash with my Easter bonnet.

I wanted a rosary that was decidedly masculine.

My subsequent Internet-wide search finally brought me to learn about the Combat Rosary―a powerful spiritual assault weapon. It's a handy weapon made for a soldier, whether on the physical or spiritual battlefield.

Fr. Richard Heilman, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, wrote an article about this magnificent rosary entitled “1916 Military Rosary Inspires New Combat Rosary.”

This decidedly masculine rosary―though the ladies like it too―apparently was commissioned by the U.S. government and distributed upon request to soldiers, sailors and Marines during World War I.

The beads are black 10mm steel BBs. They are double-chained to make them last.

As these rosaries were made in the early part of the 20th century, one can imagine these antiques are prohibitively expensive―that is, one shouldn't be spending that much money on a rosary when other cheaper alternatives are available.

However, I wanted several to give as presents. It was my hope to help reintroduce the practice of reciting the Rosary to a few male friends of mine.

And, as long as I was at it, I wouldn't mind a set for myself…

As I'm not artsy-crafty, I thought the best thing to do was to order a heavy, steel beaded rosary already assembled. Surprisingly, they weren't that expensive,  but the shipping charges were out-of-this-world―and not in the good way.

In addition, I ordered several other accoutrements to affix to my new, powerfully masculine rosary sets.

First, I ordered a Pardon Cross―an uncommon, nearly forgotten, sacramental with a fascinating history and theology attached to it.

Pope St. Pius X commissioned the Pardon Crucifix in 1905. The crucifix has an indulgence attached to it available to any who honor it by carrying or kissing it.

Among the graces and spiritual benefits Pope St. Pius X attached to this sacramental are:

  • Whoever carries on his person the Pardon Crucifix, may thereby gain an indulgence.
  • For devoutly kissing the Crucifix, an indulgence is gained.
  • Whoever says one of the following invocations before this crucifix may gain each time an indulgence: "Our Father who art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" and/or "I beg the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray to the Lord our God for me."
  • Whoever, habitually devout to this Crucifix, will fulfill the necessary conditions of Confession and Holy Communion, may gain a Plenary Indulgence on the following feasts: the Feast of the Five Wounds of our Lord (the Friday after the Easter Octave,) The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14,) the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 15) and the Immaculate Conception (December 8.)
  • Whoever at the moment of death, fortified with the Sacraments of the Church, or contrite of heart, in the supposition of being unable to receive them, will kiss this Crucifix and ask pardon of God for his sins, and pardon his neighbor, will gain a Plenary Indulgence.

Added to this was a Pontifical Rescript issued in June 1905 which listed the following intentions:

  • To testify love for Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin; 
  • gratitude towards our Holy Father, the Pope, to beg for the remission of one’s sins;
  • the return of the nations to the Faith; 
  • forgiveness among Christians; 
  • reconciliation among members of the Catholic Church. 

In 1904, the Pardon Crucifix was introduced at the Marian Congress of Rome, with the support of Cardinal Coullié, Archbishop of Lyon. By another Pontifical rescript dated November 14 1905, Pope St. Pius X declared that the indulgence attached to the Pardon Crucifix are applicable to the holy souls in Purgatory.

The Pardon Crucifix's obverse side bears the words: Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum―the Latin words for "Jesus, King of the Jews" with which Pontius Pilate had adorn Christ's Cross.

The reverse of the Pardon Crucifix bears the Sacred Heart at its center along with the fateful and faithful words, "Father forgive them"―one of Christ's Seven Last Words as He died upon the Cross and "Behold this heart which has so loved man."

At the base of the cross is Mary's monogram to remind the Christian that the way to the Son must come first through the heart of the Mother.

With a great spiritual gift like the Pardon Crucifix, which the Church in its munificence and generosity so willingly gives us, I made sure I attached one to each of my Warrior's Rosaries.

In addition, I attached a St. Benedict Medal I got straight from the beer-brewing Benedictine monks of Norcia, Italy―the site of Sts. Benedict's and Scholastica's childhood. This was the same monastery which had been ravaged by three earthquakes during the summer of 2016. The medal is particularly efficacious in warding off evil.

(Link to my St. Benedict's Medal article - http://www.ncregister.com/blog/astagnaro/the-st.-benedict-medal-when-the-church-is-no-longer-messing-around)

I next attached a Miraculous Medal to my Warrior's Rosaries, for the great number of graces assured those who faithfully wear one. I also added a St. Michael the Archangel medal―another great protector against evil―and a St. Sebastian medal, Patron of such manly pursuits as combat and athletics. And thus, my Combat Rosary was complete.

My completed Combat Rosary weighs a bit more than half a pound―one readily feels its mass and, indeed, the gravity of the prayers prayed on it. When it rests in my hands, I feel the full weight of the devotion upon my very soul.

I had my newly assembled rosaries blessed by my favorite parish priest and then gave them to my friends for Christmas. Let's hope they do more than simply hang them on their rearview mirrors. But, if that's all they did, I'd be grateful indeed.