Twelve Smells of Christmas – Day Eight: Wholly Myrrh

Most of the incense scents out there have a habit of replicating the experience of being in church for many of us, but some of them have a habit of reproducing particular churches at particular times.

Now, a disclaimer-  for a Protestant, I have a very long experience of Catholic churches. Part of it came from growing up in Rome, and part of it came from having a high church mother who eventually converted to Catholicism: result of such equation, one Protestant with a Catholic education.

To me, myrrh is the smell of St. Peter’s Basilica. I went there on a number of occasions to see services- invariably long and impressive- due to the gigantic size of everything in St. Peter’s, a church designed for titans if ever one was. I was in the habit of staring at the huge canopy over the altar on its twisting black and gold columns just to bring the whole cyclopean pile down to the human dimension, only to find of course that the canopy itself was enormous, a sunshade for Gargantua. Continue reading