The beginning and all that

This photo here is of my little stall, the first year I officially sold my Paternosters at a medieval festival. Notice my several Paternosters in process, with beads I was stringing, and others I was painting, and some tiny crosses to finish them off. There's a musician playing there in the little alcove in the background.

Medieval rosaries, or Paternosters, are known mostly to the medieval re-enactment community, who often wear them on their belts as an essential fashion accessory for anyone from Europe in that time period. Most everyone else, I suspect, has no concept that the rosary - which most every modern person has at least heard of - originated many hundreds of years ago. It was as common to see a medieval person carrying around a Paternoster as it is for you and I today to see someone carrying around a cell phone. They were ubiquitous. Everyone had one, and if you didn't, people would wonder what was wrong with you. :)


Now how did I first learn about Paternosters in the first place? It started when I began volunteering at a local living history museum - Camlann Medieval Village (I'll explain further about the whole concept of living history museums another time). When I first got involved, I jumped in to helping with some of the multi-course medieval feasts they would put on regularly, and my interest in fashion led to my being taught how to make my very own 14th century shoes out of leather... simple design, but how thrilling to be able to say 'I made my shoes myself'!

I have always been fascinated by the culture of the High Middle Ages in Europe, from about 1000 to 1400 A.D. At this living history museum, coming into close proximity with so many people who were also ardent history nerds, and excellent historians at that, got me fired up to study more about what really interested me within that time period. Politics and military history... not so much. The specifics of the way people lived their daily lives... now that was what made me excited. Culture in general, food and farming, market towns, guilds, trade, travel, language, social structures and moral attitudes, clothing and textiles, holidays, leisure, the Church, prayer and pilgrimage, saints and superstition and cathedrals and music and art and on and on...

I have also always been very Catholic. Love being Catholic. More on that later. Anyway, as a history nerd, I am quite curious about all sorts of elements of Church history, from the Mass to the Liturgy of the Hours to the saints to the intersection of faith and culture ... but most especially the life of prayer of everyday people throughout the centuries.

So, being curious, I was reading different books about daily life in the middle ages, and parts about the Church and prayer, and somewhere I came across the mention of the Paternoster. I knew the rosary had been around for awhile, and this was very clearly an early form of the rosary. I was astonished, however, when I read that this thing was so common as to be carried on their person, and presumably used for prayer, by nearly everyone across all levels of society throughout England and the continent. Over a period of several centuries, it seems.

Then, being an artist, I did research about how Paternosters were constructed, and soon after decided to start making them. So that was the very beginning... and now I have created quite a few designs. The way these were prayed with in the middle ages will definitely be explored in depth here, and I do intend these Paternosters for prayer, but also for history minded folks. In particular, I continue to be enthralled by how one small item such as the Paternoster impacted and was influenced by multiple layers of society and culture... you will soon see what I mean. Stay tuned as I delve into all sorts of elements of the history and background of the Paternoster and medieval life and culture. 



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Glad you found us, thank you! We are working on a new site that is hopefully a bit less complicated to navigate. In the meantime, if you are on Facebook you can follow us there!
~The Paternoster Guild

Well, everyone has started

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