Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review of the Incense from Spencer Abbey (Holy Rood Guild)

After recently featuring a history of Prinknash Abbey incense, the famed monastic incense from England, another monastically produced incense was brought to my attention; the incense made by the Trappist monks of St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachussetts -- whose liturgical products are better known under the banner of the Holy Rood Guild.

The monks of the Holy Rood Guild make two varieties of incense (and also their own charcoal I might add): Laudate and Cantica.

They very kindly sent me some so that I might sample it and review it. I was rather intrigued when they mentioned to me that their incense is "moist" -- something I had never before encountered. Indeed it is moist, having something of the feeling and consistency of a pipe tobacco. (A search on this topic turned up the fact that other moist forms of incense can be found in other parts of the world.)

The consistency of the incense aside, each gave off a unique and very nice scent.

Laudate is a spicy, citrus influenced aroma. Were I asked to break it down, I would say this: it is a spicy and sweet smell. The spicy quality comes from strong echoes of (what I would interpret as) orange peel and clove. At the same time, however, there is a rather "earthy" or "woodsy" subtlety that also comes through as it is burning, rather like a hint of cedar or pine.

Cantica on the other hand is sweet and entirely floral in scent. When one looks at this incense, one can see the natural floral ingredients within it. I would approximate it to a rose incense in terms of the strength and characteristics of its sweet aroma -- though this is not to say this particular incense smells like rose; it is rather more complex.

Overall, I was quite pleased with this incense, with the qualities it had while burning, the aromas, and the staying power that I experienced. Accordingly, I would certainly have no issues in recommending it for liturgical use -- let alone for use in the Catholic home.

If you would like to try one of these products but are not sure which, I would personally recommend "Laudate" -- but this is primarily for the reason that I rather prefer something less floral. (It would also be a good selection if you would like to try something just a bit different from what one usually runs into.) If, on the other hand, you prefer floral scented incense, you will almost certainly wish to go with "Cantica".

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To order:

Laudate Incense, 1 pound, $39.00 USD

Cantica Incense, 1 pound, $39.00 USD

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