About a month ago I received an email from a gentleman who was in possession of a broken rosary. He wondered could I fix it? I gave him directions to get the rosary in the mail and a week or so later it arrived. So did the rosary's story.
Part of the reason that I love working on broken rosaries is because each rosary has a story. I love to finger the beads that have been fingered by someone before me, especially old rosaries that have had many prayers. The rosary that arrived belonged to the gentleman's wife's great-grandfather, Luigi.
Luigi, apparently, was an interesting man. He was "chased" out of Italy by the fascists and he moved his family to northern California. Though he was an educated man, he arrived speaking no English and could not work as a laborer. He helped many other Italians immigrate to America and helped them find homes and jobs, eventually creating the Italian Catholic Federation (click over to see his picture) to bring Italian immigrants back to their Catholic faith.
Luigi's rosary was gorgeous. Well, not at first, but what was underneath the tarnish was gorgeous. Apparently at some point a domestic worker in the family stole the crucifix from the rosary after Luigi died. And at some point one of the links broke, but other than the tarnish and the missing crucifix it was in pretty good shape -- quality workmanship.
I spent some hours polishing off the tarnish and after finishing a decade or two I was amazed at what was underneath.
This is not a great photo, but you can see how black the beads and chain were. At first, I thought the beads were hematite or another dark stone, but as soon as I started polishing I realized it was entirely sterling silver. After getting all the tarnish off, the owner and I worked on choosing the right crucifix and I repaired the broken link. And voila.
Luigi's rosary is hopefully as beautiful as it was when he held it in his own hands. It was a sincere privilege to work on it.