Censer vs. Thurible

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Censer and Thurible is that the Censer is a incense burner and Thurible is a metal censer suspended from chains, in which incense is burned during worship services

  • Censer

    A censer, incense burner, perfume burner or pastille burner is a vessel made for burning incense or perfume in some solid form. They vary greatly in size, form, and material of construction, and have been in use since ancient times throughout the world. 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.

    Often, especially in Western contexts, “censer” is used for pieces made for religious use, especially those on chains that are swung through the air to spread the incense smoke widely, while “perfume burner” is used for objects made for secular use. The original meaning of pastille was a small compressed mixture of aromatic plant material and charcoal that was lit to release the odour, and pastille-burners were designed for this, for use in the home. Pastilles were made at home until their heyday in the early 19th century, and the burners are often made in pottery or porcelain.Some types could also be used as pomanders, where the perfume diffuses slowly by evaporation rather than burning.

  • Thurible

    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.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.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 famous thurible is the huge Botafumeiro in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Spain.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”.

  • Censer (noun)

    An ornamental container for burning incense, especially during religious ceremonies.

  • Censer (noun)

    A person who censes, a person who perfumes with incense

  • Thurible (noun)

    A censer, especially one hanging on a chain.


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