Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian English Spanish Portuguese

Question

Dear Father Angelo,
Some time ago, I was talking with a friend who was a parishioner in a parish where the priest was an old exorcist and he told me that this priest had told him that, if a rosary or a crucifix were to break, that was the devil at work, so one had to burn or throw in a watercourse the remains of the broken object.
I found this information on this site (…).
I want to know your opinion on this, I have several broken rosaries in the house because I thought I could repurpose them to make some decade rosaries, but I’m not good at manual activities, I’ve even thought about giving them to some nuns who make handmade rosaries so that they can repurpose the material to make new ones.
Best wishes.


Priest’s answer

Dearest,
1. Canon 1212 of the Code of Canon Law helps us solve this issue.
Here’s what it says: “Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been destroyed in large part, or have been turned over permanently to profane use by decree of the competent ordinary or in fact.”
The same rule applies to blessed objects.

2. First of all, when it comes to blessings we have to make a distinction between constitutive blessings (those that make an object sacred) and invocative blessings, those that ask God to bless the person who uses the objects. This is what happens, for example, with the blessing of food.
The first kind of blessing can only be imparted by those who belong to the sacred order.
The second kind can be imparted by anyone, even laypeople. 

3. As stated above, the first kind of blessing makes an object sacred. The second kind doesn’t.
This is why we ask the question: when do constitutive blessings lose their blessing?
In the case of the second kind of blessings, this problem doesn’t arise.

4. Well, objects that have been imparted a constitutive blessing lose their blessing either because they have been broken or used up to the point where they de facto no longer correspond with the initial object (think, for example, of a Rosary crown of which only some decades or a small heap of beads remain so that we can no longer refer to it as a Rosary crown) or because they have been profaned by depraved and sinful use.

5. In the first instance, there is usually no fault to be had. These things just happen.
There’s no need to bring into play the devil, as that exorcist supposedly said.
After all, it can happen that some sacred vase or statue falls to the ground and breaks.
It can happen because of carelessness or even because of a natural calamity like, for example, an earthquake.

6. Alternatively, we can ask ourselves what to do with blessed objects that we want to get rid of.
In the past, it was said not to throw them away, so that they couldn’t be profaned.
Instead, it was recommended to burn them, incinerate them. In this way, by destroying the object, the blessing was lost as well.
Nowadays, this can’t be done easily by people who live in places where they can’t start a fire without endangering their house.

7. We can then make an object lose its blessing by shattering it or dividing it, by cutting it into pieces.
In this case, the shattering or the division aren’t carried out to profane, but rather to prevent profanation, which wouldn’t happen if the object was simply thrown in the trash.
We usually do this with blessed olive branches, Rosary crowns, sacred images, liturgical furnishings…
When the object which has been blessed ceases to exist, as it’s the case of a Rosary crown of which only the beads are left, the blessing, which had been imparted to dispose the subject to make a holy use of the object, is lost as well.

8. What to do then with rosary beads that might be beautiful and reusable?
Sometimes monasteries and even convents have monks or nuns, friars or sisters who are able to recycle them.
However, if those beads are used to make a new crown, that crown isn’t presumed to be blessed, but needs to be blessed, because the previous crown has ceased to exist.
There’s a new one and, as such, it needs to be blessed.

I thank you for your question, which troubles many people who don’t know how to deal with blessed objects which have been damaged or that they want to get rid of.
I wish you a happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception (2019), I recommend you to the Lord and bless you.
Father Angelo