A thurible (via Old French from Medieval Latin turibulum) is a metal censer suspended from chains, in which incense is burned during worship services. It is used in Christian churches including the Roman Catholic, Maronite Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Oriental Orthodox, as well as in some Lutheran, Old Catholic, United Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian Church USA, Anglican churches (with its use almost universal amongst Anglo Catholic Anglican churches). In Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches, the altar server who carries the thurible is called the thurifer. The practice is rooted in the earlier traditions of Judaism in the time of the Second Jewish Temple.
Old French was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. In the 14th century, these dialects came to be collectively known as the langue d'oïl, contrasting with the langue d'oc or Occitan language in the south of France. The mid-14th century is taken as the transitional period to Middle French, the language of the French Renaissance, specifically based on the dialect of the Île-de-France region.
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in Roman Catholic Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In this region it served as the primary written language, though local languages were also written to varying degrees. Latin functioned as the main medium of scholarly exchange, as the liturgical language of the Church, and as the working language of science, literature, law, and administration.
A censer, incense burner, perfume burner or pastille burner is a vessel made for burning incense or perfume in some solid form. These vessels vary greatly in size, form, and material of construction, and have been in use since ancient times in many cultures, in both secular and religious contexts. They may consist of simple earthenware bowls or fire pots to intricately carved silver or gold vessels, small table top objects a few centimetres tall to as many as several metres high. Many designs use openwork to allow a flow of air. In many cultures, burning incense has spiritual and religious connotations, and this influences the design and decoration of the censer.
Beyond its ecclesiastical use, the thurible is also employed in various other spiritual or ceremonial traditions, including some Gnostic Churches, Freemasonry(especially in the consecration of new lodges), and in Co-Freemasonry. Thuribles are sometimes employed in the practice of ceremonial magic.
Gnosticism in modern times includes a variety of contemporary religious movements, stemming from Gnostic ideas and systems from ancient Roman society. Gnosticism is an ancient name for a variety of religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieux in the first and second century CE.
Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons that from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients. The degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow, and Master Mason. The candidate of these three degrees is progressively taught the meanings of the symbols of Freemasonry, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other members that he has been so initiated. The degrees are part allegorical morality play and part lecture. Three degrees are offered by Craft Freemasonry, and members of any of these degrees are known as Freemasons or Masons. There are additional degrees, which vary with locality and jurisdiction, and are usually administered by their own bodies.
A Masonic lodge, often termed a private lodge or constituent lodge, is the basic organisational unit of Freemasonry. It is also commonly used as a term for a building in which such a unit meets. Every new lodge must be warranted or chartered by a Grand Lodge, but is subject to its direction only in enforcing the published constitution of the jurisdiction. By exception the three surviving lodges that formed the world's first known grand lodge in London have the unique privilege to operate as time immemorial, i.e., without such warrant; only one other lodge operates without a warrant – the Grand Stewards' Lodge in London, although it is not also entitled to the "time immemorial" title. A Freemason is generally entitled to visit any lodge in any jurisdiction in amity with his own. In some jurisdictions this privilege is restricted to Master Masons. He is first usually required to check, and certify, the regularity of the relationship of the Lodge – and be able to satisfy that Lodge of his regularity of membership. Freemasons gather together as a Lodge to work the three basic Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.
The workings of a thurible are quite simple. Each thurible consists of a censer section, chains (typically three or four, although single-chain thuribles also exist), a metal ring around the chains (used to lock the lid of the censer section in place), and usually (although not always) a removable metal crucible in which the burning charcoals are placed. Many thuribles are supplied with a stand, allowing the thurible to be hung safely when still hot, but not in use. Burning charcoal is placed inside the metal censer, either directly into the bowl section, or into a removable crucible if supplied, and incense (of which there are many different varieties) is placed upon the charcoal, where it melts to produce a sweet smelling smoke. This may be done several times during the service as the incense burns quite quickly. Once the incense has been placed on the charcoal the thurible is then closed and used for censing.
A crucible is a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures. While crucibles historically were usually made from clay, they can be made from any material that withstands temperatures high enough to melt or otherwise alter its contents.
Incense is aromatic biotic material that releases fragrant smoke when burned. The term refers to the material itself, rather than to the aroma that it produces. Incense is used for aesthetic reasons, and in therapy, meditation, and ceremony. It may also be used as a simple deodorant or insectifuge.
A famous thurible is the huge Botafumeiro in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Spain.
The Botafumeiro is a famous thurible found in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. In the past, similar devices were used in large churches in Galicia; one is still used in the Tui Cathedral. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or "censer".
Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
The word "thurible" comes from the Old French thurible, which in turn is derived from the Latin term thuribulum. The Latin thuribulum is further formed from the root thus, meaning incense. Thus is an alteration of the Greek word θύος (thuos), which is derived from θύειν (thuein) "to sacrifice".
The Roman Missal, as revised in 1969, allows the use of incense at any Mass: in the entrance procession; at the beginning of Mass to incense the cross and the altar; at the Gospel procession and proclamation; after the bread and the chalice have been placed upon the altar, to incense the offerings, the cross, and the altar, as well as the priest and the people; at the elevation of the host and the chalice after the consecration.
The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
The Mass of Saint Paul VI is the most commonly used form of the Mass in use today within the Catholic Church, first promulgated, after the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and published in the 1970 edition of the Roman Missal. It "is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria" of the Roman Rite Mass, as intended for use in most contexts.
The number of swings of the thurible to be used when incensing persons or objects is specified in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
The responsibilities of a thurifer include:
Another server, previously called a boat boy and now more commonly a boat bearer,may carry a boat or container of incense to add as the thurible burns low.
These rules, except for the manner of incensing the offerings at Mass, applied also before 1969. Earlier editions of the Roman Missal prescribe that the offerings be incensed by forming over them with the thurible first three crosses and then three circles, the first two anticlockwise and last clockwise, while also saying a prescribed prayer.They also direct that incensing of the altar be done with single swings at 29 designated points of an altar attached to the rear wall of the sanctuary, and at 22 points of a freestanding altar.
The 1960 Code of Rubrics, incorporated into the 1962 Roman Missal, envisaged the use of incense at solemn Mass and missa cantata, but not at low Mass.
In the Ambrosian Rite the thurible has no top cover, and is swung clockwise before the censing of a person or object.
Use of incense was abandoned in the Church of England by the turn of the 19th centuryand was later thought to be illegal. Today, the use of incense in an Anglican church is a fairly reliable guide to how 'high' (more Catholic in liturgical style) or how 'low' (more Protestant) the church is. Anglo-Catholic churches may use generous quantities of incense. In recent years, some middle-of-the-road Anglican churches have taken to using incense a few times a year for special occasions.
The number of points within the liturgy at which an Anglican church may use incense varies. If incense is used at the entrance procession, a thurifer holding the smoking thurible leads the procession and on arrival at the altar the bishop or priest presiding incenses it either immediately after the introit or during the Gloria in excelsis Deo , if this is sung.Incense may also be used at the reading of the gospel: after the announcement of the gospel, the book is incensed left, centre and right.
If an Anglican church uses incense at only one point of the service, it does so at the offertory.The gifts and the altar are first incensed; then follows incensing of the priest (three swings of the thurible), of the other clergy (single swing to the gospel side and another to the epistle side), the choir (single or triple swing to either side) and the congregation (a swing to the gospel side, another to the epistle side and another to the middle).
Incense is also used at Solemn Evensong, which by definition is a sung celebration of vespers with use of incense.
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The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches make frequent use of incense, not only at the Divine Liturgy(Eucharist), but also at Vespers, Matins and a number of other occasional services (see Euchologion). During funeral services and memorial services (Panikhida), the censer is swung almost continuously.
Incense is understood as symbolizing the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the Saints rising to heaven. Incense is offered by the priest or deacon during the services. In some traditions, the ecclesiarch (sacristan) and his assistant (paraecclesiarch) will perform the censing at specific moments of the service.
The thurible (Greek : Θυμιατο, Thymiato; Church Slavonic: Кадилница, kadilnitsa) used is often gold plated (combining in itself at the offering of incense the three gifts of the Biblical Magi: gold, frankincense, and myrrh). The thurible consists of a metal bowl (usually with a base so it can stand upright) into which the charcoal and incense are placed, and a lid (often topped with a cross), pierced by holes to allow the fragrance from the incense to escape. The censer will usually have three outer chains (for the Holy Trinity) attached to the bowl, and a fourth inner chain (for the Oneness of God) attached to the lid. The three outer chains are gathered together and attached to a round conical plate attached to a ring; the inner chain passes through a hole in the conical plate and is attached to another ring to make it easier to lift the lid. In the Greek and some Russian practice twelve bells will be attached to the chains (their ringing symbolizes the teaching of the twelve Apostles). Sometimes the bowl and lid of the thurible are decorated with crosses or icons in repousse, and may even be decorated with semi-precious stones. When not in use the thurible is usually hung from a hook in the sanctuary.
When censing, the priest or deacon holds the censer below the conical plate with only one hand (the right hand) allowing it to swing freely. He will make the Sign of the Cross with the censer by making two vertical swings and a third horizontal swing (the three swings together symbolizing the Holy Trinity).
When the temple (church building) is censed, the priest or deacon will move in a sunwise (clockwise) direction, moving to his right as he censes in order the Holy Table (altar), sanctuary, Iconostasis, walls of the temple, clergy and faithful. There are two types of censing: a Greater Censing (which encompasses the entire temple and all of the people therein), and a Lesser Censing (which, depending upon the liturgical context, consists of censing only a portion of the temple and the people).
During some censings, especially the Greater Censing, the clergyman who is performing the censing will often carry a candle in his left hand. During Bright Week (the week which begins on Easter Sunday) the priest and the deacon will carry special Paschal candles at every censing, even the Lesser Censing. While carrying the Paschal candles, the priest or deacon will greet the members of the congregation with the Paschal greeting while censing them. Simple tapers are carried while censing during funerals and memorial services.
During the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) the emperor used to be permitted to offer incense on the Feast of the Nativity (no doubt as a memorial of the gifts of the Magi), but was permitted to perform no other priestly function.
If no priest is available, incense may be offered by a reader or senior layman, but with a hand censer which has no chains on it, but rather a handle (it often has bells as well, suspended from the handle or around the rim). The hand censer is also used in some monasteries even when a priest is present for certain censings which are done by a monastic other than a vested priest or deacon.
During Holy Week it is customary in some places for even the priest and deacon to use the hand censer for all of the censings, as a sign of humility and mourning at the Passion of Christ.
The faithful will often burn incense, using a hand censer, in the home during Morning and Evening Prayers, and it is not unusual for the head of the household to bless the Holy Icons and all of the members of the household with a hand censer.
The boat boy or boat bearer is a junior altar server position found in Catholic and Anglican Churches. The role of a boat boy is to assist the thurifer, the senior altar server who carries the thurible.The boat bearer carries the boat, a small metal container, Latin navicula, which holds the supplies of incense. The boat has a small spoon inside which is used to transfer the grains of incense onto the red-hot charcoals in the thurible. Although at times the boat bearer transfers the incense himself, more usually he simply holds the boat open as the priest performs this task.
A Paschal candle is a large, white candle used in liturgies in Western Christianity. A new Paschal candle is blessed and lit every year at Easter, and is used throughout the Paschal season which is during Easter and then throughout the year on special occasions, such as baptisms and funerals.
An altar is a structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are found at shrines, temples, churches and other places of worship. They are used particularly in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Modern Paganism. Many historical faiths also made use of them, including Roman, Greek and Norse religion.
The Tridentine Mass, also known as Traditional Latin Mass, or Usus Antiquior, is the Roman Rite Mass which appears in typical editions of the Roman Missal published from 1570 to 1962. The most widely used Mass liturgy in the world from its issuance in 1570 until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in 1969, it is celebrated in ecclesiastical Latin.
Holy Week in Christianity is the week just before Easter. It is also the last week of Lent, in the West, – Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday – are all included. However, Easter Day, which begins the season of Eastertide, is not. However, traditions observing the Easter Triduum may overlap or displace part of Holy Week or Easter itself within that additional liturgical period.
An acolyte is an assistant or follower assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession. In many Christian denominations, an acolyte is anyone who performs ceremonial duties such as lighting altar candles. In others, the term is used for one who has been inducted into a particular liturgical ministry, even when not performing those duties.
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament – normally all four – centering on the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the roots of the Christian faith. The term is also used of the liturgical book, also called the Evangeliary, from which are read the portions of the Gospels used in the Mass and other services, arranged according to the order of the liturgical calendar.
In the context of the Tridentine Mass of the Roman Catholic Church, a Pontifical High Mass, also called Solemn Pontifical Mass, is a Solemn or High Mass celebrated by a bishop using certain prescribed ceremonies. The term is also used among Anglo-Catholic Anglicans. Although in modern English the word "pontifical" is almost exclusively associated with the Pope, any bishop may be properly called a pontiff. Thus, the celebrant of a Pontifical High Mass may be any bishop, and not just a pope.
An altar server is a lay assistant to a member of the clergy during a Christian liturgy. An altar server attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying, ringing the altar bell, among other things. If young, the server is commonly called an altar boy or altar girl. In some Christian denominations, altar servers are known as acolytes.
Holy Saturday, the Saturday of Holy Week, also known as Holy and Great Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday, Joyous Saturday, Hallelujah Saturday or Easter Eve, and called "Joyous Saturday" or "the Saturday of Light" among Coptic Christians, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter. It commemorates the day that Jesus' body lay in the tomb and the Harrowing of Hell.
Easter Triduum , Holy Triduum, or Paschal Triduum, or The Three Days, is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. It recalls the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.
Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a service held in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Historically, it is during this service that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church. It is held in the hours of darkness between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day – most commonly in the evening of Holy Saturday or midnight – and is the first celebration of Easter, days traditionally being considered to begin at sunset.
In Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches, an entrance is a procession during which the clergy enter into the sanctuary through the Holy Doors. The origin of these entrances goes back to the early church, when the liturgical books and sacred vessels were kept in special storage rooms for safe keeping and the procession was necessary to bring these objects into the church when needed. Over the centuries, these processions have grown more elaborate, and nowadays are accompanied by incense, candles and liturgical fans. In the liturgical theology of the Orthodox Church, the angels are believed to enter with the clergy into the sanctuary, as evidenced by the prayers which accompany the various entrances.
The Roman Rite is the main or Western liturgical rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the main particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It is the most widespread liturgical rite in Christianity as a whole. The Roman Rite gradually became the predominant rite used by the Western Church, developed out of many local variants from Early Christianity on, not amounting to distinctive rites, that existed in the medieval manuscripts, but have been progressively reduced since the invention of printing, most notably since the reform of liturgical law in the 16th century at the behest of the Council of Trent (1545–63) and more recently following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).
Solemn Mass is the full ceremonial form of the Tridentine Mass, celebrated by a priest with a deacon and a subdeacon, requiring most of the parts of the Mass to be sung, and the use of incense. It is also called High Mass or Solemn High Mass. However, in the United States the term "High Mass" is also used to describe the less elaborate Missa Cantata, which lacks deacon and subdeacon and some of the ceremonies connected with them.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper, also known as A Service of Worship for Maundy Thursday, is a Holy Week service celebrated on the evening of Maundy Thursday. It inaugurates the Easter Triduum, and commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, more explicitly than other celebrations of the Mass.
The Gospel in Christian liturgy refers to a reading from the Gospels used during various religious services, including Mass or Divine Liturgy (Eucharist). In many Christian churches, all present stand when a passage from one of the Gospels is read publicly, and sit when a passage from a different part of the Bible is read. The reading of the Gospels, often contained in a liturgical edition containing only the four Gospels, is traditionally done by a minister, priest or deacon, and in many traditions the Gospel Book is brought into the midst of the congregation to be read.
A credence table is a small side table in the sanctuary of a Christian church which is used in the celebration of the Eucharist..
A processional cross is a crucifix or cross which is carried in Christian processions. Such crosses have a long history: the Gregorian mission of Saint Augustine of Canterbury to England carried one before them "like a standard", according to Bede. Other sources suggest that all churches were expected to possess one. They became detachable from their staffs, so that the earliest altar crosses were processional crosses placed on a stand at the end of the procession. In large churches the "crux gemmata", or richly jewelled cross in precious metal, was the preferred style. Notable early examples include the Cross of Justin II, Cross of Lothair, and Cross of Cong.
Religious use of incense has its origins in antiquity. The burned incense may be intended as a symbolic or sacrificial offering to various deities or spirits, or to serve as an aid in prayer.
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