Slideshow Image 1 Slideshow Image 2 Slideshow Image 3 Slideshow Image 4 Slideshow Image 5 Slideshow Image 6 Slideshow Image 7 Slideshow Image 8 Slideshow Image 9

about us

Howdy y’all! My name is Juan Gerardo Galván-Rodríguez and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and many great inspirations I was able to begin this apostolate, Skull Rosaries, Inc.!

Skull Rosaries, Inc. took about 3-4 years to come into action. However, in reality God, through Mary, was preparing me my entire lifetime. Looking back, I was receiving this calling early on with my encounters with the strong women surrounding me. I’d like to name a few (although there are so many more)! I do this so that y’all can get a real sense of what has led me to begin Skull Rosaries, Inc.

strong women

Growing up in the South Texas-Mexico bordertown of Laredo I was surrounded by many a strong women. And because of these women, I have come to have great devotion to our Blessed Mother.

Beginning with my mother, I have come to admire strong women. My mother reminds me of Mary in so many facets. Probably the characteristic is her silent suffering. My mother, Bless her heart, has suffered in silence but kept and continues to persevere. She is self-less and she loved, nurtured her children so much. Just like Mary!

My “Tia Divi, da family Diva” was always out to get me! She did so much for me growing up, often filling the gaps where my parents could not. One of the lasting memories of this self-less woman was her dedication to her students. Watching t.v. with popcorn and soda pop, this woman pulled all-nighters checking, revising and writing notes for all of her students. She is a high school teacher. All night long she could often be seen on a couch with a red pen. And for what? For love of her vocation! Her vocation was to lead youth to Truth and she did so in a dedicating, rousing and real cool way! And I was definitely at the top of her list. And she did all this just like Mary!

I am proud to say that I am a Cursillista - “De Colores!” This is where I rekindled my desire for God, where my fire was reignited. Of course my mother made sure I received my sacraments early on but being the rebellious adolescent I stopped going to mass altogether as soon as I became a teenager. But here, at the Cursillo Movement, I found great men who disclosed their testimonies so that I could know Jesus personally. It wasn’t very long, that I really came to understand the meaning of that ol’ adage, “Behind a great man there is a greater woman!” ☺

Behind Gerry Pinzon who had two failing kidney’s and who went into a coma a time or two is Diana. Behind Mando Ramirez who is the modern-day-version of Job in every way there is Alma. Behind John with his financial troubles, 10+ kids was his two Mary’s. His actually wife named Mary and the Virgin Mary. This big trucker man could intimidate a 1 ton Longhorn bull but he was softer than the clouds and he prays the four mysteries of the rosary each day. Ramiro Garza: Ram is another 1-toner who could wrestle a bull with his hands as well as knock some Jesus into you with his great thoughts and personal drama! But this big sinner could do nothing without Mary Lou by his side. And he’d say the same thing to you! And then there was Milo, Bird, Freddie and Fito. Each one of these men has a strong woman who guided them throughout their respective struggles. Lastly, there are my spiritual directors, Brother Joe and Father Manente. And behind them is the Virgin Mary! And again, all these women were like Mary.

blessed mother teresa of calcutta

I lived in India. In the final month I worked with Mother Teresa’s nuns. By then Mother Teresa had passed. Death may end a life but it does not end a relationship. Mother Teresa’s spirit was still very much present there. Mother Teresa once said that her greatest work was with the dying because she considered life so precious. Working with the dying I experienced death firsthand. I can remember the first day I arrived. I actually fainted because I was holding on to a guy’s foot while the mother superior was removing maggots (dead and alive) from his toe that was enflamed to the size of a softball. I encountered many things like this. But more noteworthy, I witnessed the beauty of death. The Resurrection if you will. It was here where I began to reflect upon death. I asked myself all those notorious existential inquiries: What comes after life? Is there, indeed, life after death? What is Heaven like? What is hell like? How do I reach Heaven? When one is out of their comfort one’s mind and heart quickly yearns for that which is familiar. For me at that time it was strong women. And around me, I had the spirit of a strong women who coined the phrase, “No Mary, No Jesus.”

Which brings us to the strongest of all that I’ve come to know: the Virgin Mary; the mother of Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate! I have often heard it say that the best way to know the mind of Christ is by reading his word. Similarly, I went to the bible to know Mary. I quickly found out that Mary doesn’t say much. But when Mary does speak (or not speak), what she says is absolutely profound in its simplicity. This is the real audacity of humility!

the misconception of mary

There are many misconceptions of the Virgin Mary and Catholics’ devotion to her. If I had to sum them all up into one theme it’d be the misconception that the Virgin Mary replaces Christ.

One of the first words that ever come out of her mouth in scripture is at the wedding of Cana when she instructs the disciples. She says to them, “Do whatever he tells you (John 2: 5).” This is immediately following her words to Christ, “They have no wine (John 2:3).”

This is Mary in a nutshell. She always brings us to Christ and she brings Him to us. To better understand this I’ll mention another inspirational person in my life, Lauren Daigle. Lauren recently got Lasik eye surgery because she was blind as a bat. After the surgery she was not only able to see without eyeglasses but she even had better vision than me probably (and I have 20/20 vision). But this is what Mary does for us. She helps us see the truth of Christ better. We don’t pray to her, we pray with her. We don’t worship her. We go to her like you’d go to a church buddy of yours and ask her to pray with you or for you. The end result is that she always, she ALWAYS brings us to her son!

jesus christ

In retrospect, I have come to see the common thread that runs through these strong women aforementioned (and many more that this space does not allow me to name). The common thread is that they all lead me to Jesus Christ. Whether it was Mother Teresa’s spirit that whispered, “No Mary, No Jesus.” My mother who was persistent in making sure I received all my sacraments. My old boss, Margarita Araiza, who went to mass daily. Lauren Daigle, staunchy Pro-Lifer who valued life through Mary. Or Mary who said, “Do whatever He says.” Each one of these women have, are leading me home; leading me to Christ!

Subjectively, my means has been through these strong women guiding me and molding me. The Virgin Mary formed Jesus in his humanity and continues to form me. This is my story, my unfolding that I share with you with hopes that you understand my calling to be closer to Mother Mary.

skull rosaries

Perhaps it is my Mexican heritage that attracted me to these austere wooden beads. I am certain that the wood connects me to my grandfather whom was a carpenter like Joseph (Patron Saint of this apostolate). I grew up around wood, which explains the wooden beads. I could have used plastic or silver skull beads but this did not correspond to my desire. I also find that Jesus was a carpenter like his father.

In México there is the Day of the Dead wherein skulls and skeletons are the objects used to remind us of our mortality. Perhaps this was the initial and unconscious reason I was attracted to the skull beads. I do know, however, when I felt the calling for this apostolate. It was in 2007 and I was living in New York City. My roommates and I would pass our Saturday mornings with Father Benedict Groeschel and his monks (Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) in the Bronx. There was one monk, in particular, who displayed a big rosary hanging around his waist. It was so big and heavy that it was being held up by a wooden skull bead that he had carved out from a ball of wood. He spoke of the tradition of Capuchin monks praying rosaries with skull beads that the Capuchin nuns had carved for them. He explained that this was a devotion that would allow them to bring death to the forefront in their prayers. To remind them that one day they would die. And that nothing, NOTHING mattered in this life if it didn’t bring you to God. Whether it is a girlfriend, a profession, money, good-looks, good reputation, etc. If any of these do not bring you closer to God then they mean nothing.

Thereafter, I began to research skull rosaries but the information out there was limited. I did, however, manage to find many paintings, old crucifixes from Europe, medieval skull rosaries, chapels in Italy that displayed skeletal remains. But none were really able to give me an actual etiology of the skull rosary. They were, however, able to present me with two themes that I outlined in the “Skull Rosaries Explained” section.

A few years and many prayers later, I received the call from Mary. I read "The Secret of the Rosary" (awesome book given to me by my best bud, Slacker) and was really inspired by Blessed Alan de la Roche. I felt this really cool correspondence and about a year later I find myself trying to make the fire of the Rosary bigger!

My name is Juan and this is my narrative. Now buy a skull rosary! HAHAHA ☺

thank you

I have much to be grateful for, especially to those who have helped me begin this apostolate. So prayers of thanksgiving are merited to the following: Tia Estella Miranda, Mom, Dad, Lauren Daigle, Kathleen Daigle, Liz Fiorello, Miguel Vilaro-Colon, Bobbi Bloom (Bobbi Bloom Web and Print Design), Wendy Moore, Cecilia Maria Schwartz, Jerome Kiley, Michael Hallman, Tammy Mitzel (Dakota Rosary Works), Father Benedict Groeschel and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in NYC, Kim Nickens (Anima Designs), the folks at The Rosary Workshop, and Dave Murray (Dave's Leatherworks).

Thank y’all and may God, through Mary, bless you in abundance!