Kochi: Sabu Caiter’s dwelling at Edappally is more than just a home for his family.
It houses a slice of 83 countries across the globe, a rare record, which made his the way to the Limca Book of Records. His collection of rosaries numbering 50,000 has set a world record. Sabu says it counts more than that since it is a continuation of a hobby he started as a 13-year-old.
The first rosary came to him as a gift from his ailing granddad on his death bed, marking the start of his pursuit. Now, every time he comes to know about a priest travelling abroad, he makes sure that they bring him a rosary from that part of the world, the places he has not yet been to. If at all he is seen travelling, Sabu would have either one of the two purposes; to conduct exhibitions and let the world know about what he does or add one more to the growing number of beads and strings.
“No two rosary in my possession are alike. You won’t find any bead or cross that look similar. The oldest dates back over 200 years. It came with a certification. Most of them are made in Italy, the biggest production house of rosaries worldwide,” he says.
The longest, as marked in the Limca records, with 1,000 beads is 12 metres long and the smallest, measures an inch. “It is meant for 20 people to chant together at a time,” he adds. Sabu is not just another souvenir collector; he has a thorough knowledge about the rarest materials in his treasure trove. He’d narrate it with a historian’s precision. “There’s some sanctity associated with the making of rosaries. Mission rosary from America is made by chanting prayers. Intellectually challenged children, part of this mission, are astoundingly skilled at this job. Rosary of the Unborn comes with a message against foeticide. The newly-weds are gifted with Wedding Rosary. In a year, Vatican alone produces 6,000 crore pieces that are sent to different parts of the world,” he explains.
Sabu was fortunate to have received rosaries from Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. Whenever news strikes him that a rosary unique to his taste has arrived somewhere in India, he reaches there in no time. “A nun had brought a rare rosary to Kannur; she was to leave immediately too. Hadn’t I met her in a day, I’d have lost that single piece,” says Sabu.
His wife Benetta, son Francis Aghil, close friends Manu and Suresh Joseph are Sabu’s pillars of support. Francis, a college-goer, has his distinct pick of rosaries, which the dad says, has already crossed 3,000. The larger aim, Sabu cherishes, is a dedicated museum for rosaries.