Friday, February 20, 2009

The Savior's Scent

In a class at Education Week last year, I taught about the spiritual significance of body parts in the scriptures. In preparing the material, I learned that one of the spiritual gifts associated with the nose is discernment. That makes a lot of sense when you consider that through smell, we are protected from spoiled food and other unpleasant experiences. After finding the quote below, I realized there was another blessing associated anciently with anointing the nose.

As a side note, a few people who have had near-death experiences mention that in the Savior's presence, a scent like sweet orange blossoms can be discerned.

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Psalms 45:6-8

It was precisely to this spiritual sense of smell that Ambrose, the fourth-century bishop of Milan, referred when he explained to newly baptized adults why he touched their nostrils during the baptismal ceremony. The meaning of this ritual gesture, he told them, was that they might always be able to catch the scent of their Savior.

(Paillard, Jean. 2003. In Praise of the Inexpressible: Paul*s Experience of the Divine Mystery. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers. Translated by Richard J. Erickson., pgs 8-9)


  1. Ive read and heard that the scent closest to the smell of the Savior is that of the smell of rain after a long dry spell. Interestingly enough scientists have given a name to this smell and named it Petrichor (from Greek Petros, Stone and Greek Ichor, God's blood--which is present in ambrosia and nectar. see: )

    In one mother's story of her little girl's Near Death Experience she relates the smell of rain in this manner:

    "As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, 'Do you smell that?' Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, 'Yes, it smells like rain.'"

    "Dana closed her eyes and again asked, 'Do you smell that?' Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet. It smells like rain."

    "Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, 'No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.'" (see: )

  2. Thanks for this dear story, Steven. I appreciate your contributions and insights so much.

  3. There is a lovely reference to the "sweet savor of Christ" In 2 Chronicles 2:25-16

    "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that that perish.
    To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things."

    This also reminds me of when Isaac blessed Jacob thinking it was Esau saying, "See, the smell of my son is as the smell of field which the Lord has blessed." Gen. 27:27