Queen Mary’s Rosary

Queen Marys paternoster and book of hours (or missel)
Queen Mary's rosary and prayerbook

The Mary Stuart society has put up this picture of Queen Mary’s ornate rosary or paternoster and prayerbook book of given to her by Lord Herries during her flight to England. This would date this paternoster and book to about 1568. The rosary appears to be complete. Given that she was confined for most of the time between 1568 and her death, it is likely to be complete and undamaged.

Crucifix from Mary Stuarts rosary
Crucifix from Mary Stuart's rosary

The picture at the top of the page is good enough to examine the full structure of the set. The picture doesn’t zoom well, but it looks like linked beads which would be more sturdy. As a gift for the Queen of Scots and patron (and hope) of Catholics throughout the Britain, expense would not have been an issue. It looks like gold, but it could be bronze or brass. There are five decades of small beads and five large beads. There is no Y-connector found on modern Catholic rosaries and no beads on a drop to the cross. Chris Laning had this crucifix from Mary Stuart’s rosary up on her blog: Paternosters. Its an interesting cross with a mixture of motifs: fleur-de-lis creating the circle of a Celtic cross, vine shapes on the shaft perhaps representing the tree of life, and three pearl drops.

Rosary shown on the Mary Stuart Society webpage prior to showing her grave at Westminster Abbey. It may be the same rosary as shown above.
Rosary shown on the Mary Stuart Society webpage prior to showing her grave at Westminster Abbey. This appears to be a different rosary as its beads are described as being shining red.

I wonder if this would be called a rosary at this point, or still a paternoster?

The prayerbook is difficult to see in fine detail due to the quality of the picture. It appears to be open to an illustration of the garden of Gethsemane, appropriate for Mary who spent years confined waiting for execution.