Ring (in Espousals)
Ring (In Espousals).
In early times it was customary for the man, together with other espousal gifts, to give the woman a ring as a further token and testimonial of the contract. This ceremony was used by the Romans before the introduction of Christianity, and in some measure admitted by the Jews, whence it was adopted among the Christian rites of espousal without any opposition. That the ring was used in espousals, and not in the solemnity of marriage itself, seems evident from the account given by pope Nicholas, A.D. 860 (Nicol. Respons. ad Consulta Bulgarorum, Conc. t. 8, p. 517). "In the espousals," says he, "the man first presents the woman with the arroe, or espousal gifts; and among these he puts a ring upon her finger," etc. St. Ambrose (Ep. 34) and Tertullian (Apol. cap. 6) also speak of the annulus pronubus, or ring of espousal. Pliny mentions an iron ring as worn by a person betrothed. In the ancient Greek Church a special ceremony was observed in presenting the ring. With a golden ring the priest made the sign of the cross upon the head of the bridegroom, and then placed it upon the finger of his right hand, thrice repeating these words: "This servant of the Lord espouses this handmaid of the Lord, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, both now and forever, world without end, Amen." In like manner and with the same form of words he presents the bride with a silver ring. The groomsman then changes the rings while the priest, in a long prayer, sets forth the import of the rings; after which the whole is closed with a prescribed form of times. The upper figure shows the three parts brought together; the lower figure, the parts separately. In Iceland the ceremony of betrothal used to be accompanied by the bridegroom passing his four fingers and thumb through a large ring and in this manner receiving the hand of the bride (Bingham, Christ. Antiq. 22, 35; Gardner, Faiths of the World, s.v.; Chambers's Encyclop. s.v.).