Holy Perfumes

Holy Perfumes


Perfumes and aromas have ancient origins, dating back to Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago, where they were intertwined with religious rituals honouring deities. The use of perfumes was seen as divine, symbolising life's eternal nature and contrasting the decay of death. In Egyptian mythology, the god of perfume attained divinity through the use of fragrances extracted from water lilies, highlighting the transformative power of scents.

In biblical literature, scents, perfumes, and fragrances hold symbolic significance. Christianity, while historically favouring a somber demeanour, incorporates fragrances into its rituals, with Catholicism being described as an "olfactory religion," using incense, fragrant oils, flowers, and balm in liturgies.

The Gospel narratives often depict fragrances as powerful symbols. In the Passion narrative according to Mark, a woman anoints Jesus with costly perfumed oil, prefiguring his death and burial. This act, though perceived as wasteful by some, symbolises Jesus's sacrificial love and the spreading of his fragrance among the nations, echoing the apostle Paul's metaphorical language.

Holy Week, a significant period in the Christian calendar, is also a rich olfactory experience. Churches are filled with the scent of borma tas-sepulkru and other fragrances, enhancing the sensory journey of worshipers.

As we embark on this Holy Week, Christian or not, let us be mindful of the olfactory experiences around us, allowing fragrances to guide us towards the essence of sanctity and the outpouring of genuine love symbolised by Jesus's selfless act of sacrifice.

Ref - timesofmalta


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