Monday, November 1, 2010
The Chalice - Early History and Legislation...
In many of the specimens described or preserved from the Merovingian, Carolovingian, and Romanesque periods, it is possible to make a distinction between the ordinary sacrificial chalice used by bishops and priests in the Mass and the calices ministeriales intended for the Communion of the faithful at Easter and other seasons when many received. These latter chalices are of considerable size, and they are often, though not always, fitted with handles, which, it is easy to understand, would have afforded additional security against accidents when the sacred vessel was put to the lips of each communicant in turn. In a rude and barbarous age the practical difficulties of Communion under species of wine must have been considerable, and it is not wonderful that from the Carolingian period onwards the device was frequently adopted of using a pipe or reed (known by a variety of names, fistula, tuellus, canna, arundo, pipa, calamus, siphon, etc.) for the Communion of both clergy and people.
One of the rarest survivals of this early type of chalice is the "Chalice of Ardagh," so called from the place in Ireland where it was accidentally discovered in 1868.
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 Holy 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 necessary 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.