QUAERITUR: blessing an iPhone for use in reciting the Rosary

From a reader:

Fr. Z:

Much of the time, I use one of the Rosary applications on my iPod touch in order to pray the Rosary.  Would it be appropriate to ask a Dominican or other priest to use the Rosary blessing on my iPod touch, or is this just too weird?  I suppose the same would be true of any other non-beads way of praying the Rosary.

In all seriousness, does one need to use bead-Rosaries in order to get your Rosary mechanism blessed?  This might be an increasing issue going forward.


I quickly reviewed the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum to see what is required for gaining the indulgences attached to recitation of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I did not discover, as I suspected I would not, that rosaries must be blessed for you to gain the indulgence.

It was indeed the custom that if you used a rosary blessed by a Domincan or a priest with a special faculty to do so, you could gain additional indulgences than those which were laid out in, for example, the Raccolta.  I don’t believe that is any longer in force.

Nevertheless, I think it is a very good thing to have your rosary blessed by a priest or bishop…. or Pope for that matter.

A rosary is a thing most terrifying to our deadly spiritual enemies, Ol’ Scratch and his demonic minions.  They really hate this thing.  However, when it is also a sacramental, that is, ripped from the realm of the profane and given over entirely to the realm of the sacred, a rosary is an even greater tool and defense against evil – especially when used.

I recommend that you have your rosaries blessed by a priest using the older, traditional Rituale Romanum.  The simple prayer for blessing in the older Rituale actually constitutes the rosary as a blessed thing.  I believe that one of the options in the newer (and nearly useless) "Book of Blessings" or in Latin De Benedictionibus, retains the older form of blessing as it is in the older Rituale Romanum

The Rituale has two forms for blessing a rosary, a longer used by Dominicans (and other priests) and a shorter, which is the usual.

That said, we might consider that whole blessing the iPhone business.

There are blessings for Telegraph machines in the older Rituale.  And iPhones are used for e-mails and SMSs.  There is a blessing for a radio station, and the iPhone does broadcast and receive.

This is why we do need an updated book with blessings for some modern things not even in the imagination of those who originally worked with the Rituale Romanum.  But it has to be a good book, with a sound theology of blessings rather than the insipid tasteless-salt book I mentioned above.

I guess you could use the blessing "For all things", but I rather like the idea of a little adaptation to those I mentioned above.

I once blessed the hardware going into someone’s knee-replacement.  I used the blessing for mountain climbing equipment. 

I am ever the optimist.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AM says:

    By all means let things be blessed when they are to be used in such way, say I.

    But why not use beads? Surely a blessed _candle_ ought not be kept in the cupboard for power cuts? nor blessed _water_ used for washing the kitchen floor? nor a blessed _radio station_ used to broadcast, say, Eminem? in other words, oughtn’t blessed things be set aside for their higher purpose?

    So… is the blessed iPhone gonna be set aside exclusively for Rosary recital?

  2. tomV says:

    But Father, but Father! Does Enchiridion’s Norm 15 not require blessing of beads to gain indulgences:
    N. 15–Christifidelis indulgentiam consequi valet si devote utitur aliquo ex sequentibus pietatis obiectis, rite benedicto: nempe crucifixo vel cruce, corona, scapulari, numismate.

  3. Greg Smisek says:

    For those who aren’t fluent in Latin, Norm 15 of the Norms on Indulgences is: “The faithful can acquire an indulgence if they use devoutly one of the following properly blessed pious objects, namely: a crucifix or cross, rosary, scapular, or medal” (Manual of Indulgences, fourth edition).

  4. MenTaLguY says:

    I think I share AM’s concern about the sort of blessing appropriate for an iPhone. Unless the iPhone were reallly to be dedicated to sacramental purposes, it doesn’t seem that a blessing beyond what might be appropriate for someone’s business or livestock or car would really be fitting.

  5. Random Friar says:

    I’m in the same boat as two of our comments. I would bless an iPhone as a means of communication, since, as someone pointed out, that’s what it was made for. Kind of like blessing a car — you might use it to get to Mass, but it’s more a mode of transportation than a Mass aide, per se.

    As a Dominican, I do wish we had our old privileges wrt the rosary, but so be it.

  6. JoeGarcia says:

    On a semi-related note, for my CCD classes or Youth Group meetings where the Rosary is the focus, I use a series of PowerPoint files to pray the Rosary. Each “slide” is a different work of art with a section of prayer (Our Father, Hail Mary, etc.) and an appropriate verse from Scripture to accompany the prayer and the Mystery in question.

    Can something as ephemeral as a computer file ever be blessed? If so…how?


  7. btdn says:

    There does seem to be a grant for use of blessed articles.

    From the ‘Norms on Indulgences’:

    19. The faithful, who devoutly use an article of devotion (crucifix or cross, rosary, scapular or medal) properly blessed by any priest, obtain a partial indulgence.
    But if the article of devotion has been blessed by the Sovereign Pontiff or by any Bishop, the faithful, using it devoutly, can also gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith according to any legitimate formula.

    This is also grant thirty five in Enchiridion of Indulgences.

  8. tomseeker says:

    Here is a suggestion:

    * V. Our help is in the name of the Lord
    * R. Who made heaven and earth.
    * V. The Lord be with you.
    * R. And with your spirit.

    Let us pray…

    Almighty and eternal God, who created us in Thine image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful,especially in the divine person of Thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,grant, we beseech Thee,that, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, Bishop and Doctor,during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter.

    Heavenly Father, We ask that you pour your blessing upon this electronic device and with your help guide us to use it only for good. We ask this Through Christ our Lord.


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