by Fr Richard Heilman | June 5, 2019 6:51 pm
As we remember, on the 75th Anniversary, the brave soldiers who served during the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944, I wanted to share this related story.
In the photo for this article, you see my growing collection (seven rosaries now) of WWI (and WWII) “Service Rosaries.” I came across these rosaries a number of years ago, in my search for more “muscular” rosaries. You see, I wanted more men to pray the rosary, but most rosaries looked like women’s jewelry or children’s toys.
One day I happened upon this very intriguing “pull chain” (like the chain used for dog tags) rosary among some of the collectors’ websites. It was tough. It was strong. It had a kind of gravitas to it. This was truly a rosary men would gravitate toward, I believed. As I read the description, it turned out I was looking at an original World War I military rosary. As described, it was commissioned and procured by, believe it or not, the U.S. government and issued by the military, upon request, to soldiers serving in World War I. They made so many of these rosaries in 1916, they had plenty left over for the soldiers serving in WWII. I showed these rosaries to WWII Veterans, and they recognized them as “Service Rosaries.” Most Catholic soldiers carried these rosaries during WWI and WWII and, therefore, during the D-Day Invasion. Again, all of these rosaries were made in 1916. And, nobody had ever made a “pull chain” rosary since 1916.
After I purchased one of these original antique 1916 rosaries, I looked at this “masculine and muscular” military rosary, and said to myself, “The men need to have these!!” However, I wasn’t about to go around paying the high collectors’ price of the original military rosary. So, I began to develop a prototype for the pull chain bead portion of this new rosary for men, based on the original 1916 military rosary. A short time later, the prototype arrived from the “pull chain company,” in two pieces: The long fifty-bead section, and the short five-bead section to go from center medal to crucifix. It was amazing! It had a lustrous glow to it. It was weighty. It was strong! It was manly!
From there, I added the most powerful medals and crucifix: The Miraculous Medal, Benedict Medal and Pardon Crucifix. The original WWI (and WWII) rosaries were small, and I wanted to respect the original, so I designed the “Combat Rosary“™ to be the same size as normal rosaries. You can see a gun metal and silver “Combat Rosary“™ I designed in the article’s photo. They are left and right of the framed song sheet of a 1918 WWI song entitled, “A Soldier’s Rosary.”
In the photo for this article, you can see two reliquaries. The smaller one contains a very rare First Class Relic of St. Maximillian Kolbe. Fr. Kolbe was dedicated to countering the propaganda campaign that was so severe, leading up to WWII. He used the best of “new media” for his time, and was even planning to open a movie studio. All to keep truth alive amidst so many falsehoods attempting to indoctrinate the people (This is my same passion, so Fr. Kolbe is a favorite saint of mine). He would eventually be captured and died in a Nazi concentration camp, by offering his life instead of another inmate with a wife and children. His relics are extremely rare because Fr. Kolbe was incinerated. Only a few hairs were found.
The larger reliquary contains a verified Relic of the True Cross that was recovered from a bombed out castle during the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. You can read more about the story of this special D-Day Relic of the True Cross HERE. Upon request, I often touch somone’s “Combat Rosary“™ to these amazing relics. Unbelievably, this “Combat Rosary“™ I designed is now the official rosary of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. See HERE.
May God richly bless every man and woman who puts their life on the line to protect and preserve our freedom in the United States of America!
Here’s a closer view of the Service/Combat Rosaries (some of these were silver or gold plated by the soldiers who returned from war, and attributed their safe return to their rosary):
Source URL: https://www.romancatholicman.com/soldiers-carried-these-rosaries-during-d-day-invasion/
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