Artifact Information
Title :
07. Vessels for holy oils (3) or chrismal urns or vases for holy oil

Date :

Owner :
Collection : Archidiocèse de Québec / Archdiocese of Quebec

Artist :
Laurent Amiot (1764 Quebec – 1839 Quebec)

  Artifact description
Hallmark under the base: L.A (2 times)
39.4 x 16.5 (diameter) cm
Engraved under the arms and on the lid: a cross and E. Q. (for évêque de Québec or Bishop of Quebec)

The vessels for holy oils are a series of three large receptacles here in silver with a lid that slips (or sometimes screws) into the opening and topped with a cross. They are used to hold the holy oils consecrated on Holy Thursday in a cathedral—in this case the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica Cathedral. Other churches took their own supplies of holy oil from these either in similarly shaped but smaller vessels to redistribute them to smaller churches or directly in vessels for holy oils. They are generally kept in a box but that is not the case here.

Vessel for the oil of catechumens
Large receptacle for storing the oil used in baptisms or sacerdotal ordinations. This receptacle has the following inscription on the lid: O. C. for OLEUM CATECHUMENORUM. Sometimes it has the inscription O. S. for OLEUM SANCTUM.

Vessel for the oil of the sick
Large receptacle for storing the oil of the sick used during extreme unction and the blessing of bells. This receptacle bears the following inscription on the lid: O. I. for OLEUM INFIRMORUM.

Vessel for the holy chrism
Large vessel intended to hold the holy chrism which is comprised of balsam and oil used for baptism confirmation church and altar consecrations bell blessings priest ordinations and bishop consecrations. This receptacle has the following inscription on the lid: S. C. for SANCTUM CHRISMA.

Engraved on the belly of each of the urns are the arms of the Archdiocese of Quebec surrounded by scalloped garland. The arms represent the attributes of an archbishop: a mitre on the right a crosier on the left and surrounding them all a pontifical hat with two cords ending in four rows of tassels*. Between the cords and the tassels on the right is the figure of the Immaculate Virgin who is represented standing on a crescent with a serpent twisting around her feet and on the left Saint Louis King of France is standing on the same crescent as the Virgin and is dressed in royal regalia adorned with fleurs-de-lys. In his right hand is the Hand of Justice and in his left the sceptre.
The two heraldic figures namely the Immaculate Virgin and Saint Louis King of France were inspired by the most authentic source when the apostolic mission was raised to the rank of diocese directly dependent on the Holy See. On October 1st 1674 Pope Clement X (1590-1676) signed the Bull erecting the new bishopric and jointly designated the Immaculate Virgin and Saint Louis King of France as first and second titularies of the cathedral of Quebec .

*Note: three rows of tassels represents a bishop four rows an archbishop and five a cardinal.
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