- Distinguish from sensor, censure and censor.
are any type of vessels made for burning
. These vessels vary greatly in size,
form, and material of construction. They may consist of simple
bowls or fire pots
to intricately carved silver
table top objects a few centimetres tall to as many as several
metres high. In many cultures, burning incense
connotations, and this
influences the design and decoration of the censer.
Three types of home censer.
Left: plate for stick incense.
Right: censer for granulated incense and briquette.
Center: plate holding cone incense.
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.
A large censer in front of a Taipei
In the Roman Catholic
and some other
Churches, a censer is often called a thurible
, and used during important offices
, 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
thurible is the Botafumeiro, in
the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Suspended from the ceiling of the
cathedral, the swinging of this 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
In the Eastern Orthodox
, censers are similar in design to the Western thurible,
often with the addition of 12 small bells. The latter symbolize the
preaching of the Apostles and for this reason the censer with bells
is normally used only by a Bishop. They are used much more often,
typically at every vespers
, and Divine
. 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
. 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.