Among the sacred objects that can be worn, prayer rings deserve a special mention.
The symbolism of the ring is complex and has its roots in ancient traditions, drawn from various cultures and civilizations. It seems that rings have been widespread since the Bronze Age, and have always been the subject of particularly precise workmanship. The ring, by its very form, calls to infinity, to eternity, to divinity. It has no beginning or end, it is an Uroburo made matter. We recall that the Uroburo is an ancient symbol, which occurs in many different civilizations and religions, and represents, in fact, the infinite, in the form of a snake biting its tail.
At the same time, the ring expresses a sense of completeness and stability. Its closed form indicates a containment, the concentration of energies in a circumscribed place, somehow made sacred by its own configuration. Reminiscent of sacred constructions in times gone by, stone circles, and so on. For this reason, in Mesopotamian and Roman civilizations, it symbolized authority and power, and in this sense it was worn or used as a seal by ambassadors, kings, senators, and spiritual leaders, and used in this sense by priests as a symbol of veneration and their being with God.
Also in Rome, the custom of using rings for engagements and marriages had been widespread since ancient times. Once again the sense given to this ornamental object lay in the sense of stability that it expressed, but also in the expression of eternal union, a bond without beginning, without end, inseparability. On the occasion of the Sponsalia, the ceremonies that preceded the actual marriage service, after the various documents and legal agreements involving the spouses and their families were drawn up, the future bridegroom gave the fiancée a ring. It was not simply a gift, but a symbolic object with which the bridegroom tied the bride to himself, a chain that defined the possession of the latter by her husband. The woman, for her part, wearing the ring committed herself to belong only to the groom, and to be faithful to him forever. This ring was called anulus pronubus and was put on the penultimate finger of the left hand, the anularius, which was said to hide a vein connected directly to the heart.
Heraldry also acquired the symbolic meaning of a ring, offering it in various forms, as a sign of stability, eternal loyalty, and honour.
The symbolic value of the ring made it powerful even when it was broken. A broken ring foretold of calamities and misfortunes. When someone died, it was customary to remove the rings from their fingers, to make them easier to detach from this world. The Pope’s Fisherman’s ring was broken after his death. From this we also note the identification between the ring and earthly life.
In the Christian context, the ring is used in various ways and with different meanings.
There is the wedding ring, of course, which symbolizes the indissoluble bond that unites the spouses. As in Roman times, it is worn on the ring finger of the left hand, on the side of the heart.
Even some religious figures wear rings as a symbol of their union with the Church. We’re thinking of Bishops, who wear an Episcopal Ring on their right hands, as a sign of their fidelity to their dioceses, Abbots, Abbesses, and so on. Some communities of Nuns wear a ring as a sign of marriage to Jesus, referring to the tradition of Saint Catherine of Siena, who in one of her mystical visions claimed to have met Christ who, accompanied by the Virgin and a host of saints, gave a gift of a visible ring to her alone, with which he had married her and consecrated her to himself.
What does these entail?
Rosary rings are genuine, miniature rosaries, which enable us to pray by turning the ring around a finger and rubbing the various beads with the thumb and forefinger. These rings are used in such a way as to present a small embossed crucifix and a series of raised grains, which are used just like those of the traditional rosary. Rosary rings, or ring rosaries, are also called dozens rosaries, and can be genuinely beautiful and refined objects, often enriched by precious stones, crystals, and made of noble metals like gold, silver and platinum. This is why they can be important gifts for special occasions and ceremonies. Robust and resistant, they can be used at any time, in absolute practicality, even while engaged in other matters.
A rosary ring should be worn in the index finger of the dominant hand, just below the knuckle, so that it can be turned easily.
Naturally the gestures of the rosary ring differ from those of a traditional rosary. Here’s how you can pray with a rosary ring:
- Make the sign of the cross
- Turn the rosary ring so your thumb can touch the crucifix engraved on it and recite the Creed and then the Our Father.
- Turn the rosary ring to the right (left if you are left-handed) until your thumb touches the beads placed three spaces from the cross. Recite the Ave Maria.
- Move your thumb on the forefinger, near the crucifix, on the left if you are right-handed, on the right if you are left-handed, and recite a second Ave Maria.
- Move your thumb to the next bead and press down as before. Recite the Hail Mary three times. Move your thumb to the crucifix, press down and recite the Gloria.
- With the thumb pressed on the crucifix recite the first mystery.
- Move your thumb to the right, closer to the grain of the crucifix, push down and recite three Hail Marys.
- Continue to turn the rosary and recite a Hail Mary for each bead. When you return to the crucifix, recite the Gloria.
- Recite the following Mystery, until you have reached the five mysteries for the day.
- Recite the Salve Regina, touching the crucifix after the fifth and last Gloria.
- Make the sign of the cross
Another popular religious object is the prayer ring. This is a ring, usually made of steel, but also bronze or silver or decorated with coloured enamel, on the walls of which a prayer is engraved, most often the Our Father or Ave Maria. These are aesthetically very beautiful and special rings, which can be elegant and unique fashion accessories, but which also symbolise, to the faithful, a constant and continuous bond with God, a never exhausted dialogue that is consumed every day, in every small gesture. The prayer ring accompanies the wearer throughout the day, and becomes an excuse for many small moments of recollection, thoughts addressed to Jesus or the Madonna, whispered, like an invisible friend walking beside us, at all times.
In addition to being prestigious gifts, in their meaning of religious jewels and art objects, prayer rings are also purchased by those who want to use them for themselves, as instruments of faith and devotion. A pleasant routine in which to indulge, to remind you that you are never really alone.