Images of the Blessed Mother in which she is depicted holding a rosary have always seemed to me somewhat anachronistic in that the rosary came centuries after, certainly not during, her lifetime.  So why is Mary sometimes depicted with rosary beads draped through her praying hands, I wondered?

But tonight, on the eve of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I was contemplating just such an image when I realized that it is not anachronistic at all.  During Mary’s lifetime, the mysteries of the rosary were unfolding around her, within her, held in her hands, touched with her fingers, grasped and ungrasped ungraspingly as the life of her dear Son unfolded like light, like joy, like sorrow, like glory, bead after luminous sorrowful bead, her tears transformed into gems, the petals of her opening heart unfolding like a prayer, the words of the angel echoing within: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…

The mysteries of the rosary were witnessed, pondered, prayed by Mary…and then left for us like a cairn, like a touchstone, like a prayer, to lead us to her dear Son.

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