Rosary beads are one of the most recognised symbols of Catholicism.
Before I received this photo from Rocco Severino De Micheli, I had not thought about rosary beads and prisoners of war. But for a catholic, rosary beads are important.
Graziella from Cormano Lombardia provides her personal perspective, “Rosary is a powerful weapon against evil. It means CROWN OF ROSES and every time you recite a Hail Mary, with a bead, it is like giving a rose to the Virgin Mary. I say this prayer every day and I always have a rosary in my bag and another one under my pillow. When you hold a Rosary in your hand you feel protected; you are under the mantle of the Virgin Mary and whatever happens you are protected.”
from “Il Cardinale Panico e la sua terra”- Congedo editore – Galatina 1995
The apostolic delegate Giovanni Panico is photographed distributing rosary beads to prisoners of war in Gaythorne Camp Queensland*.
a small but significant gesture
Another interesting reference to rosary beads comes from India. Italian prisoners of war in the British camps in India made requests through the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) for sandalwood and carving knives so that they could make rosary beads.
Rosary beads are like prayer beads used in other religions. To pray the rosary is to recite specific prayers corresponding with particular beads on the string.
A rosary is a made up of a crucifix, one larger bead, three small beads, another larger bead and then a medal. After the medal comes a larger bead again, followed by a group of 10 smaller beads.
Rosary beads are a symbol of religion: a souvenir of your home, parish church, your youth; a reminder to pray.
What did rosary beads mean for the Italian prisoners of war?
*If the photo is dated 1942, then the only residents of Gaythorne Camp were internees, Australian resident Italians who were arrested in parts of Queensland and sent to Gaythorne Camp before onward movement to southern camps.
*If the men in the photo are Italian prisoners of war, then the photo would have been taken from October 1943 onwards.
The image below is of a WW 2 Pull Chain Rosary. Another smaller version of the rosary is the rosary circle.