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Do you know what a patenôtrier is?

Do you know what a patenôtrier is?

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What is a patenôtrier?

A patenôtrier is a rosary maker. Patenôtriers have existed since the Middle Ages.

The profession of rosary maker is one of the oldest and rarest professions in France.

A patenôtrier works the rosary with meticulousness, patience and art. Indeed, the know-how of a patenôtrier is learned with several years of exercises, the manufacture of a chapelet can be out of coral, mother-of-pearl, amber or jet.

The job of a patenôtrier

The origins of the patenôtrier ?

The word patenôtrier comes from the Latin word "pater noster", which means "Our Father".

A rosary then consisted of several elements, each with its own use:

  • A cross to recite the credo: I believe in God

  • Patenôtres to pronounce the Our Father: The Our Father

  • The gaudés to say the Avé: Prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary (Ave Maria).

In total, the rosary contained 59 beads to recite as many prayers.

The profession of patenotrier, a unique trade

In the Middle Ages, rosary makers were divided into four groups to work. This depended on the material being worked.

Apprentices could start working at the age of twelve. Depending on the material worked on, the apprenticeship took more or less time. It took five years for gold, ten years for jet and twelve for coral. The rosary makers were very proud to work for the Church, they showed their religious faith with great esteem. However, some rules and laws existed for the patenôtriers:

  • Obligation to stop work on Saturdays and the eve of religious holidays

  • Restriction of work to polishing and threading grain on Saturdays

  • Obligation to stop all work at three o'clock in the afternoon.

Unique craftsmanship

Whether they are made of gold, enamel, mother-of-pearl or pearl, the patenôtrier works daily with natural materials.

There was also the patenôtrier-émailleur who specialised in the art of pearls. He was able to imitate jet, coral, fine pearls or amber.

For several centuries, the working techniques remained the same. Making a rosary usually took 20 minutes. The beads were mounted on a brass wire, and then the stitches were interlocked.

At the end of the 15th century, the first rosary prayer was created. This led to the creation and manufacture of large rosaries of 15 tens. The rosary beads are decorated by hand by the talent and know-how of the patenôtriers. To do this, the rosary makers used a chisel, a file, a saw or a lathe.

Whatever the material used for its manufacture, the rosary remains a unique devotional accessory. A precious and indispensable object of piety with a very important place in our lives as Christians.

Patenotrier today

Nowadays, the profession of patenotrier is not very topical. Indeed, very few people know and practice this medieval trade. However, there are exceptions. In Quebec, there is a rosary maker. Roland Ricard is a patenotrier. He makes and collects rosaries. He also does research on the subject.

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