Where he now ministered, he was attended by acolytes, and incensed by thurifers. The shoulders of a fellow countryman were alone equal to the burden of the enormous cross which preceded him; while his ecclesiastical wardrobe furnished him with many colored garments, suited to every season of the year, and every festival of the Church.
One ascends the altar, leaving the others swinging their thurifers at its foot hands his to the officiant and retires. Upon the sounding of a bell the curtains are drawn back, the officiant tenses the image in silence with four double swings, and, as he ceases the choir sings the appointed antiphon." He waved his hands. "The rest is easy," he said. "We need not discuss that."
Down the central aisle at last they came, and Peter knelt with the rest. He saw how the boys went before throwing flowers; how in pairs, as the censers were recharged, the thurifers walked backward before the three beneath the canopy, of whom one, white-haired and old, bore That in the monstrance which all adored.
That morning the chapel, cold and dark, sparkled, lighted by groves of candles; and the odour of incense, not adulterated as in other churches by spices and gums, filled it with a dull smoke; it was crammed with people. Crouched in a corner, Durtal had turned round, and like his neighbours looked at the backs of the thurifers and priests, who were going towards the entrance.
He watched while, amid the splendour of that court, with singers and ministers and thurifers arranged before, the priest ascended to enthrone the Sacrament in the place prepared for It.
The acolytes and the thurifers fell into their places; there seemed no end of banners and large golden crosses; great was the company of the prelates a long purple line, some only in cassocks, some in robes, and mitred; then came a new banner of the Blessed Virgin, which excited intense interest, and every eye was strained to catch the pictured scene.
There follow the Aspirations printed in the ritual with the responds. These are sung by the choir, and will be most impressive, I think. Then the officiant ascends the altar alone, and, standing, declaims the Address, as it is called. At the close of it at the point, that is to say, marked here with a star, the thurifers will leave the chapel, four in number.