The Roman Catholic Church herself has acknowledged that the Rosary did not come into general use until the 13th century, and the practice was not officially sanctioned by the Roman Church until after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Buddhists and Muslims had been using a device for counting prayers similar to the rosary centuries before the Rosary was introduced to Roman Catholics. According to unchallengeable historical fact, the rosary is a device which originated in Paganism, and is commonly found throughout the many and varied religions of the world. Clearly, the concept of prayer beads or prayer counters had been in use for centuries, long before the Roman Catholic Church decided to continue this popular pagan tradition, furnishing it with a Christian veneer. The Roman Catholic Church-approved Catholic Encyclopedia states: "In almost all countries, then, we meet with something in the nature of prayer counters or rosary-beads."