Pope Pius IX gave this set of rosary beads to Lieutenant Benjamin Shattuck aboard USS Constitution on August 1, 1849, when the ship was anchored off Gaeta, Italy. On that day, the Pope accepted Captain John Gwinn’s invitation and visited the Constitution. Because a commissioned warship is considered American territory, this is remembered as the first visit of a Roman Catholic Pope to America. During the Pope’s visit to Constitution, he blessed the Catholics on board and distributed rosaries, including this one.
The rosary is made up of a loop of 53 red and brown wooden beads. Another four beads at the bottom attach a small crucifix to the rosary.