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Censer vs. Thurible – What is the Difference?

censer vs thurible

Incense has been burnt for many years on different occasions and places. It is a tool used for prayer and other religious purposes. You might have noted that incense is a huge part of the Catholic church, as well as other churches. It is burnt in a metallic object that is swung on different occasions. So, what is this metal object? What is its purpose? In this article, we aim to shed a light on the differences or similarities found in a censer vs. thurible comparison. Stay tuned for more details.

We will start by defining both these words and understanding their meanings.

Understanding a Censer

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What is a censer? A censer is also a perfume burner, a pastille burner, or incense burner. It is a metallic vessel that is made for the single purpose of burning perfume or resin incense while it is in a solid form. There are different types of censers. They have differences in the material used to make them, the form, as well as their sizes. They have been in use throughout the world in different places on different occasions for thousands of years.

So, what are church censers made out of? There is a variety of materials used to make censers. They may be simply earthenware bowls or types of firepots. They may also be made from gold or silver. It is also possible to find a censer that is only a few inches tall, while others have a height of several meters.

It is important to note that the incense burning process has different meanings on religious and spiritual occasions. For that reason, censers are designed or decorated in different ways. In most designs, openwork is used to allow good airflow.

Remember, a censer might be a perfume burner or incense burner. However, the word “censer” is specifically used to identify all the pieces that are specifically used for religious occasions or purposes. In most cases, these are usually attached to chains and are swung in the air to allow for a wider spread of incense smoke.

On the other hand, the word “perfume burner” is specific to those pieces that are used for secular purposes such as burning perfume in your house to improve the scent in your house.

Understanding a Thurible

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So, what about a thurible? A thurible is the Catholic incense burner name for a censer that is suspended using chains.

What do they burn in a Thurible? Incense is burnt in such a metallic casing as the worship service continues. It is widely used in several Christian churches. These include the Maronite Catholic, the Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox. But that’s not all. You will also find its use in Old Catholic, Lutheran, United Methodist, Presbyterian Church, Reformed, as well as the Anglican Churches.

What is a thurible in the Catholic church? In most cases, a thurible features a cover that has some openings. Additionally, there is a thin layer with embers that has incense that is surrounded by some grains. That will allow the thurible to give out an aromatic smoke. It is common during the religious services of the Catholic church. Nevertheless, the practice of burning incense has been common in human religiosity for a long time. In the same manner, objects that are similar to a thurible are used in different rituals and cults.

In the past, the thuribles were usually open. It would be possible to transport them but they were not shaken. In the current churches, they are fixed. These fixed thuribles are open and small. They feature a type of perforated lid. However, they are not shaken.

Thuribles that are used commonly in some Western religious services have around four chains that allow for ripple ritual or suspension. The chains allow for shaking when the faithful assemble. Three of the four chains will hold the thurible up and the fourth chain will help raise the perforated lid and add incense to the thurible.

There is more. A thurible will have a smaller vessel that accompanies it. This is the incense boat. This incense boat holds the incense. The altar boy that is in charge of this thurible will usually bring the thurible on his right hand while holding the incense boat using his left hand. When presenting these two objects to a priest, the hands are reversed.

What does the Thurible Symbolize?

Why is a thurible used in the Catholic church? A thurible has some significant uses in the Catholic church. It is used in special moments of the service or mass. It is used at the beginning, which is before the Gospel is read. It is also used while Offertory is going on. Finally, it is used during the consecration.

When there is a funeral, it is used by the priest. The smoke coming from the thurible will be spread on a coffin that has the corpse. The main purpose of this process is to purify and bless the dead. In the same manner, a representation of the saints and Virgin Mary are censered.

Incense also symbolizes the process of prayer. The rising of smoke will symbolize prayers of parishioners that are earthbound, as they rise to Heaven. The amazing aromatic scent usually represents the sweetness of these prayers to God.

One of the most common types of thurible known in the world is in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. It is known as the Botafumeiro. It features a height of 1.6 meters and resembles a big urn. It is suspended using ropes attached to the ceiling inside the cathedral. It will take up to eight men to start its motion. It dates back to the nineteenth century.

Also, read: What is Bakhoor Incense?

Conclusion

After this detailed look at the censer vs. thurible comparison, it would be fair to assume that there is no much difference between a thurible and an incense. The only difference is the use of the word in different places and contexts. It is a sacred item that is used in different churches to spread incense smoke during different religious occasions.

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