Difference between revisions of "Myrrh"

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'''Myrrh''' is a red-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the tree ''Commiphora myrrha''. It is native to Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia. The sap of a number of other ''Commiphora'' and ''Balsamodendron'' species are also known as myrrh, including that from ''C. erythaeca'' (sometimes called East Indian myrrh), ''C. opobalsamum'' and ''Balsamodendron kua''. Its name entered English through the Ancient Greek, μύρρα, which is probably of Semitic origin.
Myrrh is a constituent of perfumes and incense that was highly prized in ancient times. It was used as an embalming ointment and, up until about the 15th century, as a penitential [[incense]] in funerals and cremations. Myrrh was widely used in the ancient world as an incense, in cosmetics, in medicine, and as an agent during embalming and funerals. In ancient Roman funerals it was burned to mask the smell from charring corpses. It was expensive, often worth more than its weight in gold.
In the [[Old Testament]], myrrh is depicted as a valuable commodity in trade and in the religious setting as an ingredient in oil for anointing: [[Exodus]] 30:23. Its use as a perfume and as an agent for purification of women is mentioned in a number of books: [[Book of Esther|Esther]] 2:12, [[Psalms]] 45:8, and [[Proverbs]] 7:17.
In the [[New Testament]], [[Gospel of Matthew|Matthew]] 2:11 mentions myrrh as one of the gifts presented by the [[Magi]] to the infant Jesus at his [[nativity|birth]]. In [[Gospel of Mark|Mark]] 15:23, myrrh is mentioned a an ingredient in the mixture of "wine mingled with myrrh" as a drug to produce insensibility for those condemned to death.
The title "Myrrh-bearer" is given to those who were present at [[Christ]]'s passion and went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus.  [[Gospel of John|John]] 19:39 describes [[Nicodemus]] bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloe for embalming when St. [[Joseph of Arimathea]] laid Jesus in the [[Holy Sepulchre|sepulchre]].  They are celebrated with the myrrh-bearing women on the [[Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women]].
Some [[saint]]s and [[icon]]s are called "Myrrh-flowing," "Myrrh-streaming," "Myrrh-gushing" or "Myroblete" which indicates that the [[relics]] or icon exudes the holy and sweet-smelling oil.  The oil is often miraculous.  "This wonder of myrrh has been given to the holy relics in order to indicate that Christians are truly 'a sweet-savour of Christ unto God' ([[II Corinthians]] 2:15), sweet-smelling to God and to heaven. The truth of the Gospel is that the sin of man is a foul odor before God and every sin pleases the devil. Through the holy mysteries and holy virtues, Christians become 'a sweet-savour of Christ unto God.' For this reason, then, the holy relics of the Saints pour forth myrrh."{{ref|1}}
* {{note|1}} [http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/relics_place.aspx The Place of Holy Relics in the Orthodox Church] by St. Justin Popovich, From ''Orthodox Tradition'', Vol. VII, No. 1, p. 9. Translated from the Serbian by the Reverend Gregory Telepneff.
==See also==

Revision as of 10:38, June 10, 2008