:"Distinguish from sensor, censure and censor."

Censers are any type of vessels made for burning incense. These vessels vary greatly in size, form, and material of construction. 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. In many cultures, burning incense has spiritual and religious connotations, and this influences the design and decoration of the censer.

Christian use

In the Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Old Catholic, and some other Churches, a censer is often called a "thurible", and used during important offices (benedictions, processions, important masses). A common design for a thurible is a metal container, about the size and shape of a coffee-pot, suspended on chains. The bowl contains hot coals, and the incense is placed on top of these. The thurible is then swung back and forth on its chains, spreading the fragrant smoke.

A famous thurible is the "Botafumeiro", in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Suspended from the ceiling of the cathedral, the swinging of this convert|5|ft|m|sing=on high, 55 kilogram silver vessel is quite a sight, possibly only surpassed by the spectacle of a lone man hurling himself at the swinging vessel to bring it to a stop.

One of the explanations for the great size of the Botafumeiro is that in the early days it was used to freshen the air in the cathedral after being visited by droves of travel-weary pilgrims.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, censers are similar in design to the Western thurible, often with the addition of small bells. They are used much more often, typically at every vespers, matins, and Divine Liturgy. If a deacon is present, he typically does much of the "censing;" otherwise, the job falls to the priest. Unordained servers or acolytes are permitted to prepare and carry the censer, but may not swing it during prayers. "Censing" is the practice of swinging a censer suspended from chains towards something or someone, typically an icon or person, so that smoke from the burning incense travels in that direction. Burning incense generally represents the prayers of the people rising towards Heaven. One commonly sung psalm during the censing is "Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice." Some Orthodox Christians use a standing censer on their home altars.

Home use

For home use of granulated incense, small, concave charcoal briquettes are sold. One lights the corner of the briquette on fire, then places it in the censer and extinguishes the flame. After the glowing sparks traverse the entire briquette, it is ready to have incense placed on it.

Censers made for stick incense are also available; these are simply a long, thin plate of wood, metal, or ceramic, bent up and perforated at one end to hold the incense. They serve to catch the ash of the burning incense stick.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Censer — • A vessel suspended by chains, and used for burning incense at solemn Mass, Vespers, Benediction, processions, and other important offices of the Church Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Censer     Censer …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Censer — Cen ser, n. [For incenser, fr. OF. encensier, F. encensoir, fr. LL. incensarium, incensorium, fr. L. incensum incense. See {Incense}, and cf. {Incensory}.] A vessel for perfumes; esp. one in which incense is burned. [1913 Webster] Note: The… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • censer — censer, censor, censure 1. A censer (from an Anglo French root related to incense) is a vessel for burning incense; a censor (from a Latin word meaning ‘to assess’) is an official who decides on the suitability of films, plays, etc. for public… …   Modern English usage

  • censer — vessel used for burning incense, mid 13c., from O.Fr. censier, aphetic form of encensier, from encens incense (see INCENSE (Cf. incense) (n.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • censer — ► NOUN ▪ a container in which incense is burnt. ORIGIN Old French censier, from encens incense …   English terms dictionary

  • censer — [sen′sər] n. [ME < OFr censier < encensier < encens: see INCENSE1] an ornamented container in which incense is burned …   English World dictionary

  • Censer —    The vessel in which incense was presented on the golden altar before the Lord in the temple (Ex. 30:1 9). The priest filled the censer with live coal from the sacred fire on the altar of burnt offering, and having carried it into the sanctuary …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • censer — See censer, censor, censure …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • censer — A vessel in which incense was sprinkled on hot coals (2 Chron. 26:19); probably a decorated rod with a bowl at the end (Heb. 9:4). In Rev. 8:3 an angel [[➝ angels]] swings a golden censer and the ascending smoke symbolizes people s prayers …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • censer — n. a vessel in which incense is burnt, esp. during a religious procession or ceremony. Etymology: ME f. AF censer, OF censier aphetic of encensier f. encens INCENSE(1) …   Useful english dictionary

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