AMPULLA (either a diminutive of amphora, or from Lat. ambo, both, and olla, a pot), a small, narrow-necked, round-bodied vase for holding liquids, especially oil and perfumes. It is the Latin term equivalent to the Greek lekuthos. It was used in ancient times for toilet purposes and anointing the bodies of the dead, being then buried with them. Gildas mentions the use of ampullae as established among the Britons in his time, and St Columba is said to have employed one in the coronation of King Aidan. Both the name and the function of the ampulla have survived in the Western Church, where it still signifies the vessel containing the oil consecrated by the bishop for ritual uses, especially in the sacraments of Confirmation, Orders and Extreme Unction. The word occurs repeatedly in the service of coronation of the English sovereign in connexion with the ancient ceremony of anointing by the archbishop of Canterbury, which is still observed. The ampulla of the regalia of England takes the form of a golden eagle with outspread wings. The most celebrated ampulla in history was that known as la sainte ampoule, in the abbey of St Remi at Reims, from which the kings of France were anointed. According to the legend it had been brought from heaven by a dove for the coronation of Clovis, and at one period the kings of France claimed precedence over all other sovereigns on account of it. It was destroyed at the Revolution. The word "ampulla" is used in biology, by analogy from the shape, for a certain portion of the anatomy of a plant or animal.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)