The Significance of Incense in the Catholic Church

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    Adam Smith

    The use of incense, like candles in worship can be traced back to antiquity. It can be said that the discovery of incense was accidental. Due to lack of proper ventilation system in houses in the bygone eras the houses would get musty and odours of cooking would stick to the walls. Men found out that if they burn particular gums and resins, their fragrance would make life indoors much more pleasant. However, as incense was costly at that time, the royalty and aristocracy only had the means to use them during public occasions. Being rare, people started offering incense to the house of God as a medium of veneration. (Information credit:

    Incense have often been considered to perform miracles due to the effect it has on the mind and body. This is another reason it was started to use for adoration of the Holy Being, in religious occasions. Many ancient cultures believed that people needed to appease gods by using bark and fragrant woods as well as incense to maintain peace and harmony, and to have a good afterlife. Christianity continues with the belief that incense can be used to purify the environment as well as the human body. The references of incense can be found in the Old Testament and the Bible.

    Incense came to be burned in churches by placing them in a censer or thurible. Incense does not burn easily on its own and thus requires a bed of charcoal. The Catholics usually burn incense during worship, any services or liturgies.

    Describing Incense
    Incense is basically a resin that is derived from certain trees and is then dried. Resin is often mixed with aromatic wood, flowers, leaves and even berries to add variety to the fragrance. Incense can be segregated into different types from the purity, size and colour of the grains.
    Varieties of natural incense, fragrant incense, incense mixtures, balms and essence based incense are available in the marketplace nowadays quite easily. You can also purchase for religious purposes from the online retail stores that specifically sell holy artefacts and materials required for daily worship and special occasions.

    The beneficial properties of incense are being discovered in new ways and have thus found its place in many areas. Incense continues to be an essential part of Ayurveda. In the contemporary days, natural incense is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry for its medicinal values and in the manufacture of perfumes due to its aroma. Natural incense is also used to make creams and ointments. It acts as an antiseptic for the lungs. The aroma derived from burning incense has been often used by the Christians to cure the physical and spiritual health. It has an effect similar to that of meditation and thus calms down the mind.

    Incense is an essential ingredient in aromatherapy and has positive effects on mood. It helps in reducing stress and maintains the release of hormones. Thus, natural incense has found its way beyond the walls of the churches. It is still used to worship the Lord, Mother Mary, the saints and the angels.

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