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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1480-1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved brass

  • Credit Line:

    Alfred Williams Hearn Gift

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58b, case 1

Object Type
This late 15th-century chrismatory is made of brass and engraved. Such containers took various forms. They often resemble reliquaries (a container for holy relics) and other ecclesiastical containers.

Ownership & Use
As a chrismatory this object would have been used to contain the holy oils necessary for ritual anointing: oleum infirmorum, used for the sick; oleum catechumenorum, used at Baptism; and chrisma or balm, used for the sacraments of Confirmation (the ceremony in which the baptised are admitted to full membership of the church) and the ordination of priests, and for certain consecrations.

The inscription reveals that this object is a chrismatory. This appears to be a bungled version of 'Confirma hoc Deus quod, operatus es in nobis' meaning 'Strengthen, O Lord, that which you have wrought for us' (Psalm 67/68: 27/29). This phrase was used during the Confirmation service.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1480-1500 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Engraved brass

Marks and inscriptions

The Latin inscription translates as 'Strengthen O Lord, that which you have wrought for us'


Height: 13.5 cm, Width: 16 cm, Depth: 7 cm including lock

Object history note

Made in England. V&A Exhibition RF.2003/51.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Chrism - a mixture of balsam and olive oil - was one of three holy oils kept in a chrismatory. It was used by a Catholic priest in such essential rituals as baptism, confirmation and anointing the sick and dying. [27/03/2003]
About 1450-1500

Chrismatories held the chrism, a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in various ceremonies. This humble example probably belonged to a parish church. It carries a muddled Latin inscription, 'Strengthen, O Lord, that which You have wrought for us'. These words You have wrought for us'. These words were chanted at the end of a confirmation, when the recipient was anointed with chrism.

Sheet brass, engraved

V&A: M.108-1923
Cat. 303 [2003]


Containers; Christianity; Religion; Ceremonial objects


Metalwork Collection

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