As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
I have an old pair of what appears to be Rosary beads. These beads were in a suitcase full of old family photos and a few records from Piana degli Albanesi which came over with the family to America in the early 1900s. I have shown them to many catholics who found them unusual and had never seen any like them before, namely without a crucifix and a centerpiece. Upon looking through pictures from Piana I noticed a similarity between the "rosary" and the traditional costumi. I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me or is familiar with any thing quite like them. Images are attached. I realize the little wooden medal with them is not originally part.
"nino jesus de praga lendecidme"
"madre mia del carmen en vos confio"
Again Im probably completely in the wrong direction, just thought it would be worth a shot to see if anyone knew anything.
I'm not really sure what I'm seeing..but it looks like there are several beads missing. I have a problem with my wooden rosary (they are also very old)...when a bead breaks it leaves an exposed link resembling what I see in your first picture. It's possible the rosary was damaged and the beads and crucifix were not replaced.
Is it possible that this Rosary is not from a Catholic faith? As you know Piana was primarily an Arberesh community, and still is.
From the following it would appear that Catholics are a minority...
"The most important churches are the Cathedral Church of ShÃ«n Mitrit Deshmor i Math (St. Demetrius Megalomartyr) of the ArbÃ«resh rite dating back to 1590; the church of ShÃ«n MÃ«ris e DhitrjÃ«s (St. Mary of Odigitria) built in 1644 according to architect Pietro Novelli's plan; and the church of ShÃ«n Gjergjit (St. George), the oldest in the town.
There is also a Roman Catholic church, the Klisha e ShÃ«ndo Vit (St. Vitus) which dates to 1514, with an imposing portal."
Could the rosary have come from The Orthodox faith (The Predominant Faith in Piana especially in the period of time your Rosary dates) which might explain the unique qualities of the Rosary (from a Catholic standpoint)?
I think Eyetalgal is correct and the beads were broken and repaired. The medal doess not look like an original part of the rosary. The medal has the Infant of Prague on one side and (Madre mia del carmine) is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Does the wooden medal say Our Lady of Olives? I am not familiar with that aspect of the Blessed Mother, but it is in English, not Italian, so maybe it is an American devotion. It would be great if you could date them.
Yes some of the beads are missing, I've seen probably 5 or 6 fall off that i know of. I really have no more information about them, just that they were in with the old records from Sicily and a few things that were placed in there around the 1920s from the states. I know that they are atleast as old as my grandfather born 1918, and I would suspect older.
Sorry for the complete lack of information, this is why I was wondering if anyone had an idea.