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“Rosaries of the Sea” now on sale at Vatican, made by refugees


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 12/07/23

The pieces of these rosaries are crafted by inmates from drift wood of migrant boats stranded on Italian coasts. Then they are assembled by refugees.

As Rome prepares for the Jubilee, sales outlets in St. Peter’s Basilica now offer “Rosaries of the Sea” (Rosari del mare), rosaries made from the wood of migrants’ boats stranded off the Italian coast.

St. Peter’s Basilica is preparing for the Jubilee Year 2025 – an event that could see over 30 million visitors flock to Rome – by launching various social initiatives in solidarity with migrants, prisoners, and the homeless. Various of these projects were presented at a press conference on December 5, 2023, at the Holy See.

The Rosaries of the Sea are assembled by refugees at the Fabrique de Saint-Pierre – the entity in charge of managing the artistic and architectural heritage of the Vatican basilica. They are made using crosses and material carved in the cabinet-making workshops of prisons in Milan, Monza, and Rome.

Homeless people are also taking part in this project, launched last September in partnership with the Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti foundation, with proceeds going to refugees and prisoners. The first rosary was offered to Pope Francis, said Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and President of the Fabrique de Saint-Pierre.

Inmates employed by the Vatican

Since September 1, an inmate from Rebibbia, a prison in northeast Rome, has been employed as an electrician at the Vatican Basilica. Other inmates are due to be taken on in the near future as part of a program run by the Italian association Seconda Chance, which helps prisoners reintegrate into the world of work, particularly in the construction and catering sectors.

In addition, the Basilica’s sales outlets offer bags made in the sewing workshops of the Viterbo prison, using recycled fabric.

At the press conference, Cardinal Gambetti also announced that a dinner with homeless people would be held on December 9, to coincide with the lighting of the crib and Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square.

Furthermore, in preparation for the Jubilee, the basilica is offering an hour of adoration every Saturday at 9pm.

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