The Sacred Vessels
Dominic's Catholic Church, Torrance
|The chalice occupies the first
place among sacred vessels.
According to the existing law of the Church the chalice, or at
least the cup of it, must be made either of gold or of silver,
and in the latter case the bowl must be gilt on the inside. In
circumstances of great poverty or in time of persecution a calix
stanneus (pewter) may be permitted, but the bowl of this also,
like the upper surface of the paten, must be gilt. Before the
chalice and paten are used in the Sacrifice of the Mass they require
consecration. This rite is carried out according to a form specially
provided in the "Pontificale" and involving the use
of holy chrism. The consecration must
be performed by a bishop (or in the case of chalices intended
for monastic use, by an abbot possessing the privilege), and a
bishop cannot in an ordinary way delegate any priest to perform
this function in his place. Further, if the chalice loses its
consecration -- which happens for example if it be broken or the
cup perforated, or even if it has had to be sent to have the bowl
regilded-it is neccesary that it should be reconsecrated by the
bishop before it can again be used. Strictly speaking, only priests
and deacons are permitted to touch the chalice or paten, but leave
is usually granted to sacristans and those officially appointed
to take charge of the vestments and sacred vessels.
Other Sacred Vessels
|According to the existing law of the Church the
chalice, or at least the cup of it, must be made either of gold
or of silver, and in the latter case the bowl must be gilt on
the inside. In circumstances of great poverty or in time of persecution
a calix stanneus (pewter) may be permitted, but the bowl of this
also, like the upper surface of the paten, must be gilt. Before
the chalice and paten are used in the Sacrifice of the Mass they
require consecration. This rite is carried out according to a
form specially provided in the "Pontificale" and involving
the use of holy chrism. The consecration must be performed by
a bishop (or in the case of chalices intended for monastic use,
by an abbot possessing the privilege), and a bishop cannot in
an ordinary way delegate any priest to perform this function in
his place. Further, if the chalice lose its consecration -- which
happens for example if it be broken or the cup perforated, or
even if it has had to be sent to have the bowl regilded-it is
neccesary that it should be reconsecrated by the bishop before
it can again be used. Strictly speaking, only priests and deacons
are permitted to touch the chalice or paten, but leave is usually
granted to sacristans and those officially appointed to take charge
of the vestments and sacred vessels.
OF THE CHALICE
These are the corporal, the purificator, the pall, the burse,
and the chalice veil.
The corporal asquare
white linen cloth, now usually somewhat smaller than the breadth
of an altar, upon which the Sacred Host and chalice are placed
during the celebration of Mass.
According to existing liturgical rules, the corporal must not
be ornamented with embroidery, and must be made entirely of pure
white linen, though there seem to have been many medieval exceptions
to this law. It is not to be left to lie open upon the altar,
but when not in use is to be folded and put away in a burse, or
"corporas-case", as it was commonly called in pre-Reformation
England. Upon these burses much ornamentation is lavished, and
this has been the case since medieval times, as many existing
examples survive to show. The corporal is now usually folded twice
in length and twice in breadth, so that when folded it still forms
a small square. At an earlier period, when it was larger and was
used to cover the chalice as well, it was commonly folded four
times in length and thrice in breadth. This practice is still
followed by some of the older religious orders. The corporal and
pall have to pass through a triple washing at the hands of a priest,
or at least a subdeacon, before they may be sent to a laundry.
Also, when they are in use they may not be handled by any but
the clergy, or sacristans to whom special permission is given.
The purificator (purificatorium or more
anciently emunctorium) now consists of a rectangular piece of
linen usually folded twice lengthwise and laid across the top
of the chalice. It is used for wiping and drying the chalice,
or the paten, or the priest's lips, e.g. after the ablutions.
Unlike the corporal and the pall, it requires no special blessing.
In the Middles Age it was not customary, as it is nowadays, for
each priest to have a purificator of his own, frequently renewed,
but it seems that a cloth of this kind was kept at the altar which
was used in common by all.
is a small square of stiffened linen ornamented with a cross,
which is laid upon the orifice of the chalice to protect its contents
from flies or dust. The word pallium, or palla, was originally
used of all kinds of coverings, notably of what we now call the
altar-cloths, and also of the corporal. Even in St. Gregory of
Tours (Hist. Franc., VII, xxii) we read of the sacred gifts being
veiled by a pallium, which was probably some sort of corporal.
But about the time of St. Anselm (c. 1100) the custom seems to
have grown up in some places of using two corporals at the altar.
One was spread out, and upon it the chalice and host were laid.
The other, folded into smaller compass, served only to cover the
chalice (sce Giorgi, Liturgia Rom. Pont., II, 220, III, 79-81).
This folded corporal is now represented by the little disk of
linen which we call the pall. At one time it was forbidden to
cover the pall with silk or rich embroidery; now the upper surface
may be of silk and embroidered, but the under-side, which is in
contact with the chalice, must still be linen. The original identity
of the pall and the corporal is further illustrated by the fact
that both alike require to be specially blessed before use.
The chalice veil and the burse
(q.v.) are of comparatively recent introduction. Even Burchard,
the compiler of the "Ordo Missae" (1502), now represented
by the rubricae generales of the Roman Missal, supposes that the
chalice and paten were brought by the priest to the altar in a
sacculum or lintheum, which seems to have been the ancestor of
the present veil. The burse, which is simply a cover used to keep
the corporal from being soiled, and which for that reason was
known in Old English as a "corporas-case", is somewhat
older. Several medieval burses are still preserved in the collection
at Danzig. Nowadays both burse and veil are usually made of the
same material as that of the set of vestments to which they belong,
and they are similarly ornamented.
|The Ciborium is a chalice-like
vessel used to contain the Blessed Sacrament.The term was aslo
applied in early Christian times to the Canopy that surmounted
and crowned the altar (see article ALTAR CANOPY), but according
to modern liturgical usage the word denotes exclusively the sacred
vessel employed for the reservation of the Consecrated Species.
At the present day two vessels are used to reserve the Blessed
Sacrament: one, called a pyx, is a small round box and serves
for carrying the Blessed Sacrament to the sick; the other, generally
styled a ciborium, is used for distributing Holy Communion in
churches and for reserving the consecrated particles in the tabernacle.
In shape the ciborium resembles a chalice, but the cup or bowl
is round rather than oblong, and provided with a conical cover
surmounted by a cross or some other appropriate device. The bottom
of the cup should be a little raised at the centre so that the
last particles may be easily removed and the purification more
conveniently performed. The material should be gold or silver
(base metals are sometimes allowed), but the interior of the cup
must be always lined with gold. The ciborium is not consecrated,
but blessed by a bishop or some priest deputed by him, according
to the form given in the Roman Ritual. While containing the Sacred
Species it should be covered with small white veil of silk or
cloth of gold, and may not be handled except by sacred ministers;
when empty and purified it may be touched by all clerics (Cong.
of Rites, Jan., 1907), and by lay persons if specially authorized.
|The Monstrance or
Ostensorium means, in accordance with its etymology, a vessel
designed for the more convenient exhibition of some object of
piety. Both the name ostensorium and the kindred word monstrance
(monstrancia, from monstrare) were originally applied to all kinds
of vessels of goldsmith's or silversmith's work in which glass,
crystal, etc. were so employed as to allow the contents to be
readily distinguished, whether the object thus honoured were the
Sacred Host itself or only the relic of some saint. Modern usage,
at any rate so far as the English language is concerned, has limited
both terms to vessels intended for the exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament, and it is in this sense only that we use ostensorium
In Scotland, before the reformation, an ostensorium was commonly
called a "eucharist", in England a "monstre or
"monstral". The orb and rays of a monstrance should
at least be of silver or silver gilt, and it is recommended that
it should be surmounted by a cross.
Cruet Set |
Set consists of vessels used for containing the wine
and water required for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Two are
always employed. The Roman Missal (Rubricæ Gen., XX) directs
that they should be made of glass. This is the most suitable
material because easily cleaned, and its transparency obviates
danger of confounding the water and wine. Other materials, however,
are used, such as gold, silver, and other precious metals. In
this case it is advisable to have a V (Vinum) on the wine and
an A (aqua) on the water cruet, so that one may be easily distinguished
from the other.
Much of this information was taken from the Catholic
The Priest's Vestments
|In shape nothing is prescribed,
but the vessels should have a good firm base on which to stand
securely and a fairly wide neck so as to admit of being easily
cleansed. They should have a cover to keep away flies and insects.
Formerly the wine for the Holy Sacrifice was brought by the faithful
in a jar-shaped vessel. It was then received by the deacon and
poured into the chalice, a vestige of which custom is still observable
at the consecration of a bishop.