Prayer Ropes

Handmade Prayer Ropes from Mount Athos.

Eastern Orthodox Christians and Eastern-Rite Catholics use a Prayer Rope ("Komboskini" in Greek), a loop composed of knots and typically made of wool, to keep track of how many times they have prayed the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." 

Although Prayer Ropes with 50, 100, or even 500 knots are in use today, historically they had 33 knots. There is usually a knotted cross at one end, and a few beads are spaced out between the knots. 

The prayer rope was created in the fourth century by Saint Pachomius as a tool to help illiterate monks perform a regular number of prayers and prostrations. As a reminder to pray continuously, in line with Saint Paul's command in I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing", monks were frequently required to always carry a prayer rope with them. 

As you can see in the video below, a well-known legend states that St. Anthony, the father of Orthodox monasticism, invented the Prayer RopeHe started by tying a leather rope for every time he prayed his Kyrie Eleisons, or Lord have Mercies, but the Devil came and would untie it to throw his count off. 

Then, after seeing the Holy Cross repeatedly in a vision from the Theotokos (Mother of God), he came up with a new method of making the knots in the form of a cross. Since the Devil is defeated by the Cross symbol, he could not untie the prayer rope if the knots were cross-shaped. To this day, prayer ropes are still tied using tiny crosses that are tied repeatedly in layers over each other. 

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Ms. Catherine Forster, USA

"...Thank you so much for this prayer rope. It’s the most beautiful prayer rope I have ever held in my hands..."

September 18, 2023