incense

incense, perfume diffused by the burning of aromatic gums or spices. Incense was used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and is mentioned in the Old and the New Testaments. It is also found in the major religions of Asia. The Babylonians used it while praying in the 6th and 5th cent. B.C. and the Greeks used it as protection against demons during the 8th cent. B.C. The earliest clear record of its use in public worship in the Roman Catholic Church is c.500.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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