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Friday, 21 August 2015


The Ancient Egyptians were the first to incorporate perfume into their culture. The earliest form of perfume was incense, which gives off its smell when burned. The upper classes fumigated their homes with incense to ward off the foul odors of the crowded lower classes.

The burning of incense was used at first only for the fumigation of Christian buildings. It had no connection with worship for four centuries though Constantine the Great had oils and incense burned in the church of St. John-in-Lateran, which was the home to the early Popes for thousands of years. Even during the reign of Theodosius I in the late fourth century, houses where incense was being used were confiscated as it was frowned upon as pagan.

The earliest authentic reference to the use of incense in the service of the Church is found to be in On The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy by Pseudo-Dionysius who it is thought was a Syrian monk in the early sixth century.

The burning of incense produces phenol, or carbolic acid, an antiseptic widely used during the nineteenth century.

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