Cup of a thurible

Lower section of a thurible or censer, in which the coals and incense were placed. The chains once passed through the leaf-shaped projections on the rim. The main body of the censer is decorated with relief scenes from the New Testament (the Annunciation, Adoration of the Magi, Entry into Jerusalem, Crucifixion, Myrrhbearers, at the Tomb, and Ascension). The lower band features depictions of the twelve Apostles and angels in medallions. The granting of permission to Christians in the 4th century to worship openly created the need for churches to be equipped with the requisite liturgical vessels. Censers were widely used in all religions. The Christians integrated their use into the liturgy very early on. The base of the censer symbolizes the belly of the Virgin Mary, who received Christ into her body. The rich and rare decoration on the censer, as well as the traces of gilding, indicate that it was a precious object, similar to those found in large collections of ecclesiastical treasures in churches in the East.

Skampavias K. 2007. Catalogue no. 22, in Skampavias K.—Chatzidakis N. (eds), Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum. Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art, Athens, 37.