THE HISTORY

The modern day rosary is the direct descendent of the medieval rosary, the Paternoster, whose origins reach back at least 1000 years.
 
Paternoster prayer beads developed during the early Middle Ages, eventually used by just about everyone in medieval Europe as an aid to prayer. They also frequently doubled as fashion accessories, being pinned to a cloak or draped over a belt. These prayer beads were originally named after the Our Father prayer - which in Latin is “Pater Noster” - which was most often prayed on them in the earlier centuries.
 
Medieval art shows an extraordinary number of examples of various types of Paternosters. They were made from a wide variety of beads and materials, from the very humble and inexpensive - wood, bone, horn - to the flashy and very precious - red coral, pearls, amber, silver & gold. Craftsmen who created the beads and other elements of these items of devotion were known in most every European country as "Paternosterers".
 
The number of beads and the devotions and prayers used with the Paternoster varied widely in the Middle Ages and were not officially set until after the time of the Reformation.  All the materials used here were expressly known to have been used to construct Paternosters in medieval Europe.