Bell, Book and Candle


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Bell, Book and Candle

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

This phrase comes from the Roman Catholic rite of "major excommunication" or anathema," which dates from the middle of the eighth century. It is the equivalent of a Catholic curse, applied to someone who has transgressed the strict laws of the Church—someone who has "made shipwreck of their faith," either by flagrant and impenitent immorality or by a denial of fundamental Christian teachings.

It is said that the bell represents the open announcement of the act, the book is the authority of the words spoken by the bishop, and the candle (or taper) symbolizes the possibility that the ban could be lifted, should the accused be sufficiently repentant.

The rite is always carried out in a public place. The excommunicating bishop gathers together with twelve priests, each holding a lit taper. The bishop says, "We separate him. . . from the precious body and blood of the Lord and from the society of all Christians; we exclude him from our holy mother the Church. . . we declare him excommunicate and anathema; we judge him damned and condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church." A bell is rung as the book is closed. The priests respond with "So be it!" then they extinguish their taper and trample on it. This signifies the end of the culprit's attachment to the Church and, indeed, his soul from the sight of God. In some countries, local churchgoers would subsequently carry a coffin to the door of the one excommunicated, and stones might be thrown at his house.


Bell, Book and Candle (movie)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A 1958 movie directed by Richard Quine, starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Jack Lemmon. Based on a John Van Druten stage play, it tells the story of a beautiful Witch named Gillian Holroyd (Novak) who loses her powers when she falls in love with an about-to-be-married publisher named Shepard Henderson (Stewart). Holroyd is aided and abetted by her crazy Witch brother Mickey (Jack Lemmon), and opposed by her mentor Mrs. De Pass (Hermione Gingold). Holroyd's cat-familiar is named Piewacket, one of the names actually used by witches according to the frontispiece of Matthew Hopkins' Discoverie of Witches (1647). Brother Mickey is erroneously described as a Warlock but other than that the Witchcraft presented is benign and not Satanic.

References in classic literature ?
 And means the damning, with bell, book and candle,
His chamberlain and cardinals came forth, as I remember, to ask whether we would take seven thousand crowns with his blessing and a plenary absolution, or the ten thousand with his solemn ban by bell, book and candle.
Also, was she in the film Bell, Book And Candle and has she won any awards?
She did star alongside James Stewart and Jack Lemmon in Bell, Book And Candle in 1958 and the same year made her best-known film, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
THE bewitching comedy BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE is the latest offering from a Teesside theatre group, which has echoes of their past.
She knew you were the type who would swallow this hook, line and sinker - or bell, book and candle.
Reader opened her improvised set with Bell, Book and Candle and her warm voice seemed to invite the other musicians on stage to join in.