Chrismatory with three oil bottles, c. 1500


A chrismatory designed to hold the three oils blessed by a bishop on Holy Thursday.


We took the sacrament and keep our faiths firm and inviolable

King John (Act 5 Scene 2)

 

This box held the three oils or ‘chrisms’ used during some Roman Catholic ceremonies. England’s transition from Catholicism was turbulent during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Many religious practices changed, but anointing with oils is still practised in the Church of England today.

 

A chrismatory designed to hold the three oils blessed by a bishop on Holy Thursday. The lid is decorated with a symbol of the Lamb of God; the front with two griffins. With three tear-shaped pewter phials - one marked with an `I' symbol for oil of the sick (`oleum infirmorum'); the second marked with a `C' for the chrism (consecrated oil used for annointing in sacred rites); the third marked with a dotted symbol, presumably for the oil of the catechumans or `oleum sanctum' (for a Christian convert under instruction before baptism).

See this treasure

Shakespeare's Birthplace