Holy Phial or Sainte Ampoule, Order of
Holy Phial or Sainte Ampoule, Order of The name of an old order of knighthood in France, which was composed of four persons, of the very first families in the province of Champagne, and were styled Barons de la Sainte Ampoule. At the coronation of the French kings they were hostages to the dean, priors, and chapter of Rheims until the return of the holy phial in which the coronation oil was kept, and which, according to the legend, was brought from heaven by the Holy Ghost under the form of a dove, and put into the hands of St. Remy at the coronation of Clovis, an enormous crowd having prevented the messenger from bringing in time that which had already been prepared. The knights of this order were only knights while the holy phial was used at the coronation service. They wore as a badge a cross of gold enameled white, cantoned with four fleurs-de-lis, and on the cross a dove descending with a phial in its beak, and a right hand receiving it. — Chambers, Cyclop. 5, 393.