Jewelry has always been an important way for people to enhance their appearance and to symbolize what is important to them. The wedding ring is one of the most common and often most significant ways Americans show this. The ring symbolizes the bond between husband and wife, but it also shows the world these two people are set apart for each other. It is both a reminder to the couple and a message to the world.
Catholic jewelry can function the same way. Jewelry can be a constant reminder of faith, a physical way to remember the promises God has given us. It can also be a way to let the world know you are set apart for God. The Catholic Church even prescribes jewelry for a Bishop to wear as a symbol of his office, including a pectoral cross and a ring on the third finger of his right hand.
A Reminder of God’s Promises
The symbols on a piece of Catholic jewelry can be a simple reminder of the promises God gives us and the ways he delivers them to us. Jewelry has a unique role in this because it sits next to your skin. Every time you turn or move, your necklace bumps against your chest or your ring presses against your finger. In the same way, your Catholic bracelet is a physical reminder of God’s promises to you.
The crucifix is easily the most common symbol for Catholic jewelry, depicting the body of our Savior hanging on the cross. It reminds each of us about the glorious sacrifice that Jesus made when he died to save us. This simple image can remind us of that promise, whether we wear it on a necklace, ring or bracelet.
Here’s a short list of some of the beautiful images you can find on Catholic jewelry:
- The Dove – The gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church
- The Christ Anchor – Jesus is the solid anchor that keeps us stable in a stormy world
- The Miraculous Medal – The work God accomplished through the Virgin Mary
- Saints Images – The stories of the saints that remind us of God’s promises and their faithfulness to them
A Devotional Tool
Jewelry can also be a way to remind us to follow the Christian disciplines that help to form our faith. The rosary is the most common piece of Catholic jewelry, and it’s designed specifically for this purpose.
A full rosary is made of five sets of ten small beads, each preceded by a large bead and a space. Each bead is a physical reminder to pray a specific prayer, whether the Our Father, the Hail Mary or the Glory Be. For each decade, the person focuses on one of the mysteries, a scene from the life of Jesus Christ. You can find smaller versions of rosaries as bracelets or even rings, often with only a single decade.
A piece of jewelry can also be a way to remind yourself of a new discipline you are beginning. Just like tying strings around your finger, Catholic rings can be a way to remember your devotion.
Use it to remind you to keep a fast, pray at certain times, read God’s word or offer up a prayer for a specific person. Disciplines are an excellent way to practice faithfulness to God and to offer up your devotion to him.
A Conversation Starter
Jewelry isn’t just for your beauty and edification. Every piece of jewelry is meant to be seen. We wear necklaces, bracelets, rings and more for others to see them just as much as we do for ourselves. Catholic jewelry can be a great way to start a conversation about the faith.
Many pieces of Catholic jewelry have one or more images of the saints. Fewer and fewer people know anything about the faith, and they may ask about those images. You can use them as starting points to tell the story of the saint and about the power of God working through that saint.
Talk about how St. Michael, the archangel, fought Satan and protects us. Recount the story of the virgin birth and the incarnation of Christ. Explain the imagery of the sacred heart and the love that Christ has for us that drove him to die on the cross for our salvation. Each of the many symbols of the church carries meaning, and it can be an easy way to start a conversation about God’s love for us.
Catholic jewelry is about more than decoration. While the images and craftsmanship are certainly beautiful, the jewelry is an outward symbol of inner devotion. Catholics can use their jewelry in many ways, as a symbol of God’s glorious promises to us, as a reminder of a discipline, as a devotional tool or as a conversation starter.