QUAERITUR: cleaning up an old thurible and giving it to parish as incentive

From a reader:

First let me say I am a long time reader of your blog. Thank you for all that you do.

A few years ago I found a brass censer on eBay which I bought. The exterior is quite tarnished, and the interior is a bit corroded with the copper plating missing in some places. There’s a small ding at the base.

Nonetheless, I floated the idea of attempting to restore it and let my children present it to out priest as a gift to celebrate the Year of the Priest. I started polishing it up, and dang it if it doesn’t look pretty sharp. He does not currently use a censer; but if he has an inkling in his heart to do so, perhaps this would be a little encouragement.

Do you know of any reason why this would not be an appropriate gift? Would it be acceptable even if it is clear that the item is not new (I won’t even attempt to remove the small ding, fearing I’d only damage it further)?

Do you have any thoughts on this sort of gift? Are you aware of any considerations I should keep in mind when continuing?

First, it is good that some of this old stuff is being rescued and cleaned up and … hopefully… used.

A lot of that ecclesiastical hardware is is pretty expensive new.

Also, I can’t see why it would not be a good gift to some parish where the priest is trying to get things going again.

Something like this might be a source of encouragement.

I would also present it along with some incense and some charcoal, so that it is easy to start using it right away.


I suspect most people would like to have more solemn liturgy on occasion, and the use of incense can go a long way in making it so.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. ssoldie says:

    I believe that is wonderful of you and yours, I also rescued an alter bell that was for sale at a consignment shop in our area. It is three bells in one holder and is very good condition. I would like very much to give these bells to a priest, as they were at one time in the Sanctuary of a Church and used at a Gregorian Rite Mass.

  2. medievalist says:

    Love the picture!

  3. marajoy says:

    Is the writer *sure* that the church does not already have a thurible? There is a risk that the church has one, and the priest is just not interested in using it, and so the gift might be “wasted.”

  4. catholicmidwest says:

    I think it’s wonderful. Sometimes finding and refurbishing something that was lovingly and properly used, like an old rosary, is better than getting a new one. Imagine how many Christmas eves and weddings that liturgical item has probably seen.

  5. Sacristymaiden says:

    marajoy–good point.
    Sometimes a church will have a thurible tucked away somewhere in a forgotten closet(always in need of a polish!). While I’ve found that not all of these hidden treasures are of the best quality or design, they are a lot better than nothing.

    Other than that, I think it is a great idea to rescue and find a place for traditional items like thuribles!

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