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Incense is used in many religious rites, the smoke being considered symbolic of prayer. There is no clear evidence of its Christian use until the last quarter of the 4th cent. The incensing of the altar, church, people, etc., is first recorded in the late 5th cent. in the E. and in the W. in the 9th cent. In the W. incense was long used only at solemn services, but since 1969 it has been more widely permitted, e.g. at any Eucharist. In the E. it is used at most services.

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