Kailua artists make gift for Pope Francis from the White House

Kailua artists make gift for Pope Francis from the White House
Updated: Mar. 28, 2013 at 8:47 PM HST
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Pam Aqui
Pam Aqui
Matt Medeiros
Matt Medeiros

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Pam Aqui owns a small business out of her Kailua home called Heirloom Rosaries. Her phone rang earlier this month and the caller ID said US Government. She feared it was the IRS. Instead it was the White House making a once in a lifetime request.

"I didn't even answer the phone Heirloom Rosaries, I just said hello?" laughed Aqui. "Like what could you want?"

What they wanted was a rosary for the new Pope as a gift from the United States Government. Although the White House's initial request wasn't going to work.

"First she wanted beads made from a tree fallen on the White House grounds. I said I can't do that. She said can you make koa and I said yes," said Aqui.

Koa is the native wood cherished in Hawaii. She shaped and twisted the thickest silver wire and wove in big Koa beads.

"This is exciting. This doesn't happen to people like me every day," said Aqui.

So how was this humble woman chosen? It's unknown exactly. She lives in Kailua where the President vacations. She was also a classmate of Vice President Joe Biden's at the University of Delaware although she's never met either of them.

"Like someone picked up a grain of sand and said you. It's just like mind boggling to me," said Aqui. "To me it feels like God put a little spot light on me and gave man an amazing gift."

The rosary also had to come in a special box. So she called upon a friend she met at a fundraiser last month for that part.

"She is saying it's for a very special person and she whispers 'it's the pope.' And I'm all the Pope?" said Matt Medeiros, Matt & Rose Woodworking. "It's just funny how God works. We were sitting here trying to think what is this the beginning of? What is the plan? How do you pick two people from Hawaii? This is something from the United States government to a Pope. As far as I look at it these are the most powerful people in the world."

He needed to find the perfect Koa. Fortunately his stepfather had been holding onto this piece.

"He said, 'I was going to turn a candy dish out of it,' but he goes use this. 'Maybe it will earn me some points to go to heaven one day.'" said Aqui.

They sent prototypes to the White House which were approved and just days later it was done. Vice President Joe Biden hand delivered it to the Pope last week just in time for Easter.

"Would it be too much to ask if he just picked it up in his hands? Let alone pray on it! I would be so honored," said Aqui.

But she says it's nice just knowing it's in the Vatican made with love and aloha.

Aqui said she did pray on the Pope's rosary before she sent it. Not only to add prayer but to make sure she didn't forget a bead.

She won't make another exactly like it but she will produce similar ones that will cost around $300. She isn't saying what she charged the White House.

To see more of Heirloom Rosaries click here.

For more information about Matt & Rose Woodworking click here.

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