Direct hotline to God? Vatican attempts to 'digitise prayers' with new app.

Over 1.3 billion people currently on Earth have followed the many Catholics before them in conforming to traditional prayer rituals including the counting of 'decades' or 'Hail Mary' through the use of rosary beads. Centuries of tradition could be about to change, though, as a new 'eRosary' app could see the prayer embrace the digital age. The Vatican has worked with a company in Taiwan to create an app that provides digital rosary beads and a crucifix which connect to a downloadable app. The 'Click to Pray eRosary' app is activated when the user makes the sign of the cross with the provided crucifix.

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Rosary refers to a form of prayer psalter – text containing the Book of Psalms – used in the Catholic Church and to the string of knots or beads used to count the component prayers.

The prayers that comprise the Rosary are arranged in sets of ten 'Hail Marys', called decades. Each decade is preceded by one Lord's Prayer and followed by one Glory Be.

The mobile phone app costs £85 and comes with an audio guide, images and variations of the standard prayers which can be updated.

Physically, the device consists of ten consecutive black agate and hematite rosary beads, and of a smart cross which stores all the technological data connected to the app.

Christian news: Pope Francis
Christian news: Pope Francis (Image: getty)
Christian news: Pope Francis
Christian news: Pope Francis encourages Catholics to download app (Image: getty)

When activated, the user has the possibility to choose either to pray the standard rosary, a contemplative Rosary and different kinds of thematic rosaries that will be updated every year.

Once the prayer begins, the smart rosary shows the user’s progress throughout the different mysteries and keeps track of each rosary completed.

The Vatican has explained that the new technological method of praying aims to unify, stating: “Innovative, app-driven and full of valuable religious content, the Click To Pray eRosary device aims at praying for world peace.”

Monsignor Lucio Ruiz, secretary of the Vatican’s communications department, said that the beads reflected a culture “that sees us all connected”.

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Christian news: Pope Francis
Christian news: the app will 'digitise prayers' (Image: getty)
Christian news: Pope Francis
Christian news: Pope Francis has come under fire by Italian politician Matteo Salvini (Image: getty)

He told the Catholic news site Crux that “digitising prayer” sounded strange, but the beads were aimed at creating virtual “pilgrim communities”.

Pope Francis has described the internet as a gift from God and has more than 18 million followers on Twitter.

This is a less conventional unveiling in a chain of status-quo defying moves by Francis as he continues to stamp his mark on the Catholic Church.

One of the unorthodox features of the current Pope's tenure is his appointing of cardinals from less notorious churches spanning further across the globe.

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Christian news: Pope Francis
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Just last week, cardinals from less established countries in the Catholic Church such as Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lithuania were appointed.

His critics have grown impatient with this policy as former Pope Benedict demands he remains domiciled in an apartment on Vatican grounds amid his own doubts of Francis' methods.

This includes Italian politician Matteo Salvini who has opposed Francis' openness to immigration.

The right wing of the Catholic Church have also expressed discontent, including an enigmatic society within the Vatican – Opus Dei – who have close ties to previous Pope, Benedict XVI, who is more conservative in his views.

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