Zambia – The Rosary on Death Row

Maximum security prisoners in Zambia – including inmates on death row – will be receiving booklets about the rosary thanks to a joint initiative between two Catholic charities.

Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has teamed up with rosary charity Crown of Thorns to provide copies of ACN’s rosary booklet for Zambian prisoners in Kamfinsa State Prison and Kabwe Maximum Security Prison.

The initiative to send 1,600 copies of ACN’s rosary booklet came in response to requests inmates sent Crown of Thorns asking to receive more information about the rosary.

Lisa de Quay, chief executive of Crown of Thorns, explained how the charity regularly receives many letters from behind prison bars – including those on death row.

She said contact with the prisoners was probably sparked by a visiting chaplain who distributed Crown of Thorns cards describing the rosary prayers.

Mrs. de Quay added, “Inmates are usually family breadwinners, worried about the poverty and hardship that their crime has left their families suffering and too far from home for their families to visit.”

“Although kindly treated, most inmates spend years in prison with only the clothes that they were arrested in, and with no soap, and with no blanket or sheet to cover themselves in through the cold months of the year, and often rejected from their society through crime or disease.”

Mrs. de Quay went on to say that sending the prisoners rosary cards – and now the booklet by ACN – is making a difference to their lives.

She said, “Their letters will surprise you, [they are] full of the great joy of contact, of being accepted, and of finding God.”

One prisoner on death row wrote: “For me it is the first time that I have received a parcel, even though I have been in prison for 14 years now. Please, please [may] God richly bless you.”

One maximum security prisoner in Kabwe jail expressed his thanks for the package he was sent.

He wrote: “I believe that your work is a lamp that one cannot hide under the table.”

“It is a light of the world, a light that can be seen thousands of miles up and much farther on land. This light shines before people.”

“How thrilling it is to be part of God’s work, shinning out in this dark and corrupt world.”

“For the love and faith you have for God’s people, I pray that God should bless you all, and that He gives you knowledge that you can share with me.”

Crown of Thorns promotes the rosary as a means of achieving peace, and sends various items to Africa including liturgical vestments and statues, as well as rosaries and prayer cards.

ACN is committed to helping the Church throughout Africa by supporting priests, Sisters, and other projects where the Church is in pastoral need.

In 2009, ACN gave Zambia more than $840,000 in aid.

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