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Ad, to, and ora, mouth; (i.e. "carrying to one's mouth "), primarily an act of homage or worship, which, among the Romans, was performed by raising the hand to the mouth, kissing it and then waving it in the direction of the adored object. The devotee had his head covered, and after the act turned himself round from left to right. Sometimes he kissed the feet or knees of the images of the gods themselves, and Saturn and Hercules were adored with the head bare.
By a gradual transition the homage, at first paid to divine beings alone, came to be paid to monarchs. Thus the Greek and Roman emperors were adored by bowing or kneeling, laying hold of the imperial robe, and presently withdrawing the hand and pressing it to the lips, or by putting the royal robe itself to the lips.
Ancient Middle East
In Eastern countries adoration has been performed in an attitude still more lowly. The Persian method, introduced by Cyrus, was to kiss the knee and fall on the face at the prince's feet, striking the earth with the forehead and kissing the ground. This striking of the earth with the forehead, usually a fixed number of times, is the form of adoration usually paid to Eastern potentates even today.
The Jews kissed in homage, as did other groups mentioned in the Old Testament. Thus in I Kings xix. 18, God is made to say, "Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." And in Psalms ii. 12, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way." (See also Hosea xiii. 2.)
In Western Europe the ceremony of kissing the sovereign's hand, and some other acts which are performed kneeling, may be described as forms of adoration.
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Adoration in the Catholic Church takes several forms. One is the simple adoration of God Himself. Adoration also takes the form of Eucharistic adoration. The Catholic belief in transubstantiation is that the bread and wine literally become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, through which Catholics adore Jesus Christ in remembrance of what He gave. The host is usually placed in a monstrance, and reverently viewed at Benedictions and during adoration. Some churches contain "adoration chapels" in which the Eucharist is continuously on display that the faithful may observe their faith through it.