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Cramp-Rings

CRAMP-RINGS, rings anciently worn as a cure for cramp and "falling-sickness" or epilepsy. The legend is that the first one was presented to Edward the Confessor by a pilgrim on his return from Jerusalem, its miraculous properties being explained to the king. At his death it passed into the keeping of the abbot of Westminster, by whom it was used medically and was known as St Edward's Ring. From that time the belief grew that the successors of Edward inherited his powers, and that the rings blessed by them worked cures. Hence arose the custom for the successive sovereigns of England each year on Good Friday formally to bless a number of cramp-rings. A service was held; prayers and psalms were said; and water "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost" was poured over the rings, which were always of gold or silver, and made from the metal that the king offered to the Cross on Good Friday. The ceremony survived to the reign of Queen Mary, but the belief in the curative powers of similar circlets of sacred metal has lingered on even to the present day.

For an account of the ceremony see F. G. Waldron, The Literary Museum (London, 1792); see also Notes and Queries, vol. vii., 1853; vol. ix., 1878.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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