Basins, Ecclesiastical Use of

Basins, Ecclesiastical Use Of.

Before the highaltar, and above the steps to it, were usually three basins of silver, hung by silver chains, with prickets for serges or great wax candles, and latten basins within them to receive the droppings. These tapers burned continually, night and day, in token that the house was always watching unto God. Basins were used for carrying the cruets and the ewers for the ablution of the priest's fingers. Theywere usually in pairs, one being used for pouring, the other for receiving the water; thus we find one engraved with the mortal life and a second with the divine life of Christ. The material was sometimes enameled copper or silver-gilt, and the embellishment was frequently of a heraldic rather than religious character. At Durham one basin and two cruets were used at a time. There is a beautiful basin, of the time of Edward II, wrought with figures of a knight helmed by a lady at a castle gate, in St. Mary's, Bermondsey, which once belonged to the abbey there. Two enamelled basins of the 13th century at Conques are called genmellions; one is used as a ewer, and the other as a jug. There was also a large basin for alms, usually double gilt, lused upon principal festivals, and a smaller one of less value for ordinary days. Alms-basins of Flemish manufacture and latter are preserved at St. Margaret's, Westminster.

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