Arasely Chelsea Rios will be among the tens of thousands who will be in attendance as Pope Francis deliver his address to Congress on Sept. 24, watching from the West Lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. She is still hoping (and praying) for a ticket to attend the canonization Mass for Blessed Serra. Unlike other spectators, Rios has a special interest in attending the canonization. She was commissioned to design a rosary for Pope Francis that will be presented to him at the event.
“I created an entire collection of St. Junipero Serra rosaries for the mission in Carmel, and a different exclusive collection for the mission in San Juan Capistrano to launch in honor of the canonization of Fr. Serra,” explained the Temecula, CA resident. “Fr. Serra’s body is tombed at the mission in Carmel and the relic Caravaca cross that he wore is housed in the museum at the mission as well.”
That cross was removed from the museum display so that Rios could photograph it and then replicate it for her rosaries.
“Through this connection I received a call that I was to be commissioned to make a special rosary for the Pope that will be given to him during his visit on the day of the canonization,” Rios said. “The person who commissioned me prefers to remain anonymous, but he will be meeting with the Pope during the visit and wants to hand him something special from the very same place where soon-to-be St. Serra is buried.”
Rios did not accept payment for the commission but has asked instead that the Holy Father “…hold it in his hands, run the beads through his fingers and offer a full rosary in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Blessed mother Mary. I am so grateful for this opportunity.”
As a little girl, Rios enjoyed making rosaries as a hobby. She grew up in a family that prayed the rosary every night. It was a friend of the family who introduced her to the craft and then her own mother taught her how to make standard rosaries from wire and beads. Later, while traveling for business, she used to make them while in flight to pass the time.
“On one flight I could make up to three rosaries which I would, in turn, give each one away to anyone who would take it; the flight attendants, people sitting next to me, people in the airports. It didn’t matter to me if they were Catholic or not. Each gift made people smile and some would ask me to tell them about the rosary and the devotion behind it,” Rios said.
About eight years ago, someone offered to buy one of her rosaries. Seraphym Designs was born. Rios chose the name “Seraphym” because it is the name of the highest order of heavenly angels. Her designs are now available on her website. They range in price from $250 to $340.