KOCHI: “There is a story behind every rosary," says Kochiite Sabu Caiter whose exhibition of rosaries held at St Mary’s High School, Pattom, concluded on Sunday.
The rare collection included rosaries presented to him by Mother Teresa, as well as the heads of the Vatican, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis who also presented Sabu with a gold medal and a letter, praising his unique collection.
One of the rosaries at the exhibition, the 130th one he has put up, is integrated into a credit card. When asked why, Sabu said, “Rosaries are outlawed in Saudi Arabia. So American soldiers used disguised rosaries to pray when they were stationed there.”
The expo showcased a collection of more than 60,000 rosaries, in all shapes, sizes and colours, from over 80 countries. The longest in the collection is 12 metres while the shortest is an inch. Some of the exhibits are more than 200 years old.
While most of them are made of glass and stones, some are made of unique materials like titanium, wax, rubber, uranium glass and even rudrakshas. “This exhibition was held to revive the culture of using rosaries in family prayers," says Sabu.
Apart from rosaries, the expo had a number of figurines, crosses and other religious materials. Only a portion of his large number of rosaries has been kept for display.
Sabu has been collecting rosaries since 1981, with the first being the one given to him by his grandfather on his death bed. Out of 60,000 rosaries, 800 rosaries are significant for their antique value. As many as 300 of them have come the from Vatican city. Others are from significant Christian pilgrimage spots such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Fatima and Lourdes.
Sabu has been exhibiting his collections since 2007. Apart from churches here, he has also held exhibitions in Coimbatore, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mangalore and Mysore.
His rare collection of rosaries has been recognised by the Limca Book of Records in its 2018 edition as a national record. “My collection has also beat the Guinness world record of 9,000 rosaries. It will be featured there soon," he says.