The Holy Ampulla, also known as the Sainte Ampoule, was used in the coronation of French kings for nearly a millennium.

This sacred glass vial, filled with chrism or anointing oil, is piously believed to have been brought from heaven by a dove!

The tradition surrounding the Holy Ampulla dates back to the 6th century. It was said that St. Remigius (Remi), the Bishop of Reims, received the holy oil from a dove during the baptism of the dying pagan Clovis. This miraculous event established Reims as the designated site for the coronation of future French kings.

The ampoule, a Roman glass vial about 1½ inches tall, was discovered in the sarcophagus of St. Remi in the 12th century. Its presence and the unique, unearthly fragrance it emitted reinforced its heavenly origin. It was first used by Pope Innocent II for the anointing of Louis VII in 1131 and continued to be an essential part of the coronation rites until Louis XVI in 1775.

In 1793, revolutionaries destroyed the vial. However, fragments of the glass vial and some of the balm were preserved by witnesses. These fragments were later collected and placed in a new reliquary, which was used in the coronation of Charles X in 1825.

Today, the preserved contents of the Holy Ampulla are kept at the Archbishopric of Reims.

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
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