Half of a Prayer Bead with Jesus Carrying the Cross


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 306

The rosary, a fifteen-part prayer developed primarily by the Dominican order, grew in popularity during the fifteenth century. Chains of beads called chaplets or rosaries helped devotees to keep track of the sequence during prayer. Wealthy patrons commissioned beads of the finest craftsmanship and materials, but even at the height of production, beads that open like miniature tabernacles are thought to have been quite rare. The Biblical inscriptions include an exhortation to open the bead and meditate on the scene within: "Attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow" (Lamentations 1:12).

Half of a Prayer Bead with Jesus Carrying the Cross, Boxwood, Netherlandish

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Interior (17.190.473a)