Saints of Hawai’i Rosary Project
Since 2002, Hawaii’s “Artists Mean Business” initiative sought to promote and create career pathways and opportunities in arts, cultural and creative industries for youth and adults with significant disabilities in Hawaii who traditionally struggle against obstacles and barriers to meaningful employment paying a livable wage. Launched in 2010, the Saints of Hawaii rosary project provides a growing network of working Hawaii artists with disabilities the flexibility to work at home hand-making these important cultural/religious articles in honor and memorial of Hawaii’s two patrons saints of outcasts.
Saints of Hawai’i Rosary making project was and continues to be inspired by Kalaupapa born artist Monica Perry Perriera, who was removed at birth from her mother and father in 1937 then living at the Molokai leper colony. As a protected child and adult of the state of Hawaii she was once institutionalized at Waimano Home for the Feebleminded and lived her adult life in group and foster homes. In 2005 at age 68, she first visited her birthplace where she learned about the religious lives and work of Blessed Father Damien and Sister Marianne. Influenced by many return visits to Molokai until her death in 2013, Monica painted prolific versions of Saint Damien the Leper stories. One of her Damien story series is part of the permanent collection at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
These Job’s Tears and porcelain rosaries are completely handmade and assembled by Monica’s artist friends living with disabilities on Maui, Hawaii and Oahu islands. Purchase of a rosary includes a silk lined, woven pouch, holy card and rosary. The rosary is hand strung on waxed linen cord with a knot between each bead. The decade beads, cross and medallion are hand made porcelain, while the Job’s Tears seeds, collected from the islands of Hawaii are selected and sorted by size and color, then drilled for stringing. This process guarantees that each rosary is distinctly unique, needing hours to create each one.