ROME – In a world in which smartwatches already measure heartbeats, footsteps, sleep cycles and hours on a tennis court, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network has launched the first “smart rosary,” an app-driven device that aims to foster global prayer for peace.
Technically called “Click To Pray eRosary,” the small black bracelet with ten rosary beads and a cross was presented Tuesday in Rome as a “tool for learning how to pray the rosary.”
The eRosary is activated by making the sign of the cross, and it synchronizes with a free app of the same name that provides access to an audio guide, exclusive images and personalized content about praying the rosary.
The wearable device was produced by GadgeTek Inc., a tech company dedicated to innovative lifestyle gadgets.
Father Frederic Fornos, the international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said Tuesday that praying the rosary for world peace is something Pope Francis asked from every young person participating in World Youth Day in Panama earlier this year.
“Our world needs peace,” Fornos said. “There’s so much cruelty and violence. Peace is at the heart of the mission of the disciples of Christ.”
“In a world of indifference in comparison to so many injustices, poverty, denied elementary rights,” he said, “praying for peace means being reconciled in our daily relationships, with the poorest, with the foreigner, with different cultures and spiritual and religious traditions, but also with our land, our forests, rivers and oceans.”
The Jesuit priest said that praying the rosary is a “beautiful spiritual tradition to contemplate the Gospel with Mary,” but that despite being a popular prayer, it’s not sufficiently known, and sometimes it’s even “despised,” seen as a “devotion and a mechanical repetition.”
“This prayer brings our hearts closer to the Heart of Jesus,” Fornos said. “The rosary helps us to go deep into the Gospel, with its joyful, luminous, painful and glorious, mysteries that speak of our life.”
A press release said the initiative is “aimed at the peripheral frontiers of the digital world where the young people dwell,” and it serves as a “technology-based pedagogy to teach the young how to pray the Rosary, how to pray it for peace [and] how to contemplate the Gospel.”
Therefore, it said, this project brings together the best of the Church’s spiritual tradition with the latest technological advances.
The app includes three ways to pray the rosary: the traditional way, showing images of the Gospel to facilitate the meditation; a contemplative one, which touches on the challenges of humanity and the Church’s mission, with “contemporary images of the Gospel, from Father Mark Rupnik, a Jesuit; and a “themed” rosary. The latest option includes a rosary for young people, with others to follow on migrants and refugees, Francis’s ecological encyclical Laudato Si’, and vocations.
Also at the presentation was Monsignor Lucio Ruiz, secretary of the Vatican’s communications department. He said the initiative is born of a culture “that sees us all connected,” sharing from pictures to the result of training sessions, through phones, watches and computers.
“While the expression ‘digitize prayer’” can sound strange, he said, “the right reading of this initiative should be directed towards creating virtuous networks, sharing spaces for pilgrim communities – even in the digital world – who want to share, who want to support one another, who want to walk together!”
The tool, he said, aims at helping people rediscover the importance of “sharing,” also in spiritual life, “which has always been fundamental in the life of the People of God!”
The aim of the eRosary, he said, is to bring people together, even in virtual spaces, “with a missionary zeal, living the Gospel and preaching the Message to the outermost borders of the Earth.”
According to Jerri Kao, CEO of the technology company behind the device, the eRosary is a “bridge between technology and our need of prayer. We’re hoping to reach other believers, so that they pray more for the good of human beings.”
“I never thought that innovation could serve such an old and beloved prayer of the Church,” said Juan de la Torre, head of La Machi, a communications company that helped produce the app along with the communications of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. Both are also behind the pope’s monthly prayer videos.
“The Church is perhaps the most innovative institution in communications, from the first Apostles, to the development of newspapers and the radio. As a state, it was one of the first to have its own website,” he noted.
The device is available on the Click to Pray eRosary website, at 99 Euros ($110), and in Amazon Italy, soon to be available in every Amazon store. The app, available in IOS and Android, is free and works without the device.
“Pope Francis says that the Rosary is the prayer of his heart,” Fornos said. “He asked last year during the month of October for Catholics to pray the Rosary intensely for the Church.”
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma
Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.