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rosaryworkshop - Museum - Don Brown Collection
- 4000 Rosaries
A PRICELESS JEWELBOX
VENTURING THROUGH 4000 ROSARIES
OUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
Far to the West and North of our country - almost as far as you can go - is a collection of over 4000 rosaries - the world's largest. Near the small town of Stevenson, Washington overlooking the overwhelming Columbia Gorge - right on the pathway of Lewis and Clark's famous ‘Journey of Discovery', and about 45 minutes East of Portland, Oregon is this wonderful place.
BROWN COLLECTION - DESCRIPTIONS
SENSE OF PRAYER - VARIATIONS IN DESIGN - LENGHTS
This collection, housed in the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center also called the Scamania Interpretive Center, captures the imagination. Regardless of how you come upon this collection - by either turning the corner of the displays in pursuit of regional history or going there just to see the exhibit, it remains with you. The variation is astounding. We were graciously welcomed by Sharon Tiffany and her staff. They graciously allowed us to photograph and study this collection for your information. (this is a big page taking time to load)
|DON BROWN COLLECTION
(please note the images on the left do not immediately relate to the text below. They only represent a sampling of the rosaries in the collection.)
A GROWING COLLECTION
This remarkable collection came to Don Brown, who was from the area. He did not travel much but people heard about his collection and sent him rosaries. People like the Kennedy's and people like your next door neighbor. Some have been blessed by Popes, others by local priests and one was blessed by Padre Poi. There is even a relic case containing a rose petal which was on the altar when Padre Pio said his last mass. One was hand chained by Sister Lucia de Santos (Fatima) as a special request of her older sister.
Father Flannigan of Boys Town fame sent a rosary of olivewood beads.
OTHER THAN CHRISTIAN
This collection also contains rosaries from other than the Christian faith. Counting beads from Native Americans, Mohammedans, Buddhists and other religious groups are there for you to see. According to the brochure, "Before the Christian era the Jews were accustomed to reckon their prayers on beads..." and "It is said that perhaps three quarters of the human race are given to their use."
INSPIRED BY THE SISTERS
also explains where his interest for rosaries began. He said that he was
ill much of his childhood and once, while still living in Oregon he was
in the hospital and saw the Sisters of Mercy wearing the rosary. He said,
"... the Rosary has always held a special fascination for me. I consider
my former years of illness a special blessing since the Rosary was the
beginning of the faith of my adoption." He said he began collecting rosaries
in 1920 and eventually became a Dominican Brother, choosing the name of
Dominic after his patron Saint.
DESCRIPTIONS . . .
Don Brown numbered the Rosaries and wrote a mini history about each one. The Interpretive Center has set all this information into a computer, which opens each one up for the viewer. Some of particular interest:
#1 - THE FIRST ROSARY
#4 - CONTAINS A MINIASTURE ROSARY
#98 - STAUROLITE PATERS
#287 - RUSSIAN SOUVENIR
#422 - PRE HISTORIC WOOD
#464 - UPPER BAVARIAN FILIGREE - 1770
#511 - FILIGREE OCTAVO CHAPLET - 1730
#516 - FROM FATHER FLANNIGAN
#637 - WASHED ASHORE
#701 - BRIGGITTINE CHAPLET - 790
#704 - ROSES ON A CHAIN
#723 - CARVED DEER HORN
#792 - FIRST PAPAL BLESSING
#1143 - CARVED CORAL BEADS
#1324 - MADE BY SISTER LUCIA
#1906 - BLESSED BY PADRE PIO
#1961 - LITANY OF THE BLESSED MOTHER
#2008 - BLESSED BY POPE PIUS XII
#2369 - FIGURES IN BEADS
#2757 - WW I ROSARY FROM BULLETS - 1915
#2840 - OLD TESTAMENT
#2870 - INERT GASSES GLOW IN THE DARK
AN OVERWHELMING SENSE
If one were to
sense an energy or power from walking through these beads, it would have
to be from the collective prayers that were ‘said', ‘prayed', ‘counted'
or ‘told' on their surface over the past 67 years. One cannot deny the
life and hope that has gone into them. And one cannot deny the bridges
between heaven and earth that were built with these beads over the centuries.
VARIATIONS IN DESIGN . . .
If anything were to release us from the fear of making a rosary that might not be ‘under the rule of rosary making', this would be the place. This is the place where you see that people made rosaries with whatever was available. Some were regional, others represent what was available at the time.
In the field of art and craft, some of the most wonderful developments in design come from availability and necessity. Using what you have and using it well, creates a free spirited work we often call ‘folk art'. This should be treasured. Today we go out and buy supplies and make up kits. They have their purpose but the inventiveness developed with the unexpected speaks to our hearts. The signs of resourcefulness are throughout this collection.
There were elegantly
chained souvenirs from holy places for the pilgrims and some were humbler,
simply strung beads in the
In the collection we saw a filigree wedding rosary in pearls, crystal and gold which had two circlets of beads that hung from one pendant. Each circle was large enough to go around one of the partners.
BEADS . . .
Rosaries made of pearls, red plastic roses, deer horn, semi precious stones, glass, crystal, carved figures and metal. There was one made of faceted blue Russian trade beads, faceted garnet and of cork.
There is also an American flag made up of 39 red white and blue beaded rosaries which hang all in a row. It was made by a friend from white pine that grew in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
NATURAL ELEMENTS. . .
2in branches cut to form beads with bark still attached, Olive Pits, Chestnuts,
Acorns, Peach Pits, Paw-Paw Seeds, Date Seeds (#143) was made from trees
growing near California Missions), Trapa Seeds and Spina Christi Beans
to name a few. Jobe's tears were in abundance ranging in dark to almost
white in color. They came in all sizes. Many were carved, were in dark
browns and blacks and hung together to create a very powerful image.
PENDANTS : SKULLS, TASSELS, CROSSES, BELLS . . .
This was surprising to us. Some of the rosaries
were made up of small skulls called ‘death heads' (made by nuns) and had
a larger skull hanging from the pendant. (It reminded us of the ‘Days of
the Dead celebrations in Latin America). There was a crown, a Gamma cross
(similar to a swastika), Reliquary boxes, one of which had a rose petal
from Padre Pio's last Mass and one had a relic of St. Theresa. A variety
of medals, tassels, crosses made from beads, knots, deer horn and one we
all liked, bells. Then there was the cross made with bullets.
LENGHTS . . .
Rosaries range in size from SMALL (small enough to fit into a thimble), to LARGE (can be one that is 16 feet, 3in long.) There are rosary gardens (ROSARIES) that are laid out in the shape of a rosary and a school in VA has painted one on their tarmac for the children to pray.
SHOULD ROSARIES BE WORN? . . .
Tradition tells us rosaries should never be worn as ornament or 'jewelry'. Yet carrying a rosary on one's person has a way of reminding us to pray. And people do wear them. History also points out that rosaries were often used as a 'good luck charm' of sorts. As protection? Interesting as in a way - when one believes the power contained in the rosary is from above, we are drawn into the source of the protection.
We must not forget the rosary is a sacramental, it counts the prayers we pray. And the prayers point to the life of Christ as told by his mother, Mary. Over the centuries, these names below have become traditional and do point to the body. The center has divided them into 6 categories which we have added to for further clarification:
RING ROSARIES - Usually cast of flat metal in one piece
with 10 counting beads and a cross.
So it seems, if we wear a rosary or chaplet in 'good faith', we are doing the same thing many have done befor us.
AGES . . .
The earliest Rosary recorded in the collection, Sharon told us, is 1730. There were at least 6 Bavarian filigree rosaries there, one dating 1840. The filigree crosses were very similar to the crosses on the site but others were much more elegant.
< Left - Wayne and Kristen Blair of Richland Washington admiring the collection while their mom, Lenice looks up information on the computer about various rosaries.
ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE
Gorge Interpretive Center overlooks the Columbia River Gorge and
holds a wonderful collection of artifacts from the settlers and Indians
of the area. The south wall is almost completely made of glass to incorperate
the beautiful view of the gorge. In the center there is a large water-wheel
(3 stories high) that was used to catch the once abundant salmon. There
are also several wonderful theaters which capture the history of the area
and how the gorge was created by nature.
AN OPEN COLLECTION OF ROSARIES
The rosary collection is an open collection. Sharon explained they were still receiving rosaries from people all over the world. This was a request made by Don Brown himself. For more information on this collection or on the Center, please write:
Don Brown Rosary Collection
Skamaina Interpretive Center
Box 396 Stevenson Washington 98648
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