Of GI bones and Combat Rosaries and a 90 year burial delayed


This is a great email.  For your Just Too Cool file!

RE: the Combat Rosaries, I received mine (ordered several for family members) today and, holding them, recalled how blessed I was in July 2010 to attend the Catholic burial (with full honors) at Arlington of Private Thomas Costello, an Irishman from New York assigned to the 5th ID, KIA 16 Sept 1918 (!) [!] in the St Mihiel offensive. He and two other GIs had been found, 90 years after their death, by a group French men & women whose metal detectors sensed the Rosary beads PVT Costello had on him.   HERE

I asked the surviving family member – DOD was able to locate (a nephew) – what the Rosary looked like — alas, it was of blue beads so not a GI one, but still thought you would appreciate knowing of him – R.I.P. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] – and how well-made Sacramentals typically were back then, to survive such conditions.

Thank you for that.

You can all find the “Combat Rosaries” at any time by clicking on the ad on the right sidebar.

Respondeo dicendum:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I have been very happy with my Church Militant rosary, and also with my MTF daily Missal.

  2. wmeyer says:

    And kudos to Fr. Rick!

  3. Uxixu says:

    Hmm I must have been doing it wrong in Iraq. My combat rosary was black plastic. My brown scapular wouldn’t have set off any metal detectors, either.

  4. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Hmm I must have been doing it wrong in Iraq. My combat rosary was black plastic. My brown scapular wouldn’t have set off any metal detectors, either.”

    Alas, they had neither metal detector nor Iraq in 1918.

    The Chicken

  5. Priam1184 says:

    @The Chicken: that was priceless, thank you. And thanks Uxixu for going over there and dealing with all of that for us.

    A great story thanks for posting Father.

  6. pannw says:

    @ Uxixu, Oh, I don’t know, but it sounds like you were doing it exactly right to me. LOL, The Chicken!

    I have ordered the rosary, with plans to give it to my husband, a former Naval Aviator and current non-Catholic. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I look forward to seeing it. Please pray for his conversion!

  7. pannw says:

    Oh, and that is a wonderful story. Thank you, Father Z. I think my brother in law worked for that group doing the searches a couple of years ago. I have sent him a link to the story to find out. I’m sure he did similar work, but I’m not sure if it was exactly the same. They also worked with the recently deceased, which was very trying and draining, as you can imagine, but if I remember rightly, they would have some cold case types which were a nice break from the sadness…bittersweet instead of heartbreaking, and satisfying as this particular story is.

  8. New Sister says:

    The medals (Miraculous & St Benedict) are more substantial on the silver than on the gold version. (though the latter is visually stunning – hard to choose) The MM used on these is inscribed in Latin.

  9. gloriainexcelsis says:

    I have a combat rosary from WWII. A GI, I believe, gave it to my mother after the army rescued her, my stepfather and the rest of the almost 4000 starving civilian internees from Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, PI. It’s the one I keep in my car now.

  10. Maldon says:

    A friend gave my 13 year-old son one a few days ago, as a gift for the feast of St. Nicholas. He loves it, as do I. I strongly recommend it as a gift for boys and men.

  11. GOR says:

    I had been looking for an ‘industrial strength’ Rosary for some time as successive ones I’ve owned kept breaking. Upon learning about the Combat Rosary I ordered one and I’m very pleased with it – not least with the historical background. I have now ordered a second one for my son.

    An explanation of the St. Benedict Medal can be found at http://www.osb.org

  12. CatholicByChoice says:

    Thank you for this post, it was very helpful to me. I never heard of military rosaries but through this post I have been able to identify a rosary that I inherited from my Grandfather when I was a teenager. Through researching “military rosaries” I was led to an ebay link where I found an identical rosary which is said to be a French Gun Metal WWI Rosary. If interested here is the link to the rosary identical to mine on ebay (I don’t have the leather carry case though):


    Thank you again, I have written to my father to ask him if he has any idea whether a relative of ours fought in WWI and might have been issued this rosary. My Grandfather immigrated from Italy around 1920.

  13. catholictrad says:

    I ordered the Church Militant rosary the first moment I saw it on this blog. It arrived very quickly. It cannot get lost in your pocket as it is both heavy and loud. There will be no stealth late-night praying with this chunk of cold steel!

    It does not seep honey-sweet saccharine, nor would it look precious with fluffy pink bunnies.

    This is unmistakenly a manly man’s rosary for all those manly men in your life who love their Mother.

  14. de_cupertino says:

    I just received my Church Militant combat rosary, and It’s really impressive.

    (It’s actually the replacement they shipped out when the first went missing in the mail — I pray the original results in a conversion for someone at the Wisconsin USPS ;)

    The rosary is very heavy (duty), quite shiny, and jingles loudly in one’s pocket. I think it’s probably too heavy and bulky for every-day-carry for me, what with all the other things in my light-weight California pockets.

    My three-year-old son has already latched onto it for rosary night, which is a good thing, as I’ve already had to repair two chain-type and one wood one he and his sister pulled to pieces. This should take the abuse.

  15. NavySeaBee says:

    Thanks for the Post.
    It gives me a bit of faith in our government to NEVER quit looking for these brave troops. About 4 years ago they found the remains of 4 men from Force Recon Marines who were lost some 40 years ago in Nam. They too were repatriated and 3 of the 4 are now at Arlington. If you do a search for “Breaker Patrol” you’ll find out all about it. They found Sgt. Tycz’s St Christopher medal too, and it was also returned to his family. The brother of Sgt. Tycz is my best friend.

    The History of the French Gun Metal Rosary mentioned above can be found at;


    Those “Combat Rosaries” are patterned after the WWI, Military Issued Rosary. The only rosary that was actually ISSUED as personal field gear, by the USA Military.

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