Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 6),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 12-16

Plain Suggestions for a Reverent Celebration of the Holy Communion

by Bishop Charles Chapman Grafton


Chapter III

The Altar Vessels

For the celebration of the Holy Communion a cup, or chalice, and a paten are required by the rubrics. The large flagon sometimes seen in our churches is not mentioned in the Prayer-Book. The omission is not prohibition, unless all omissions are prohibitions, yet there seems but little need for it, as a properly constructed chalice will hold enough to communicate a hundred persons. It there are to be more than this number at a celebration, there may be two patens and chalices.[1] Where it is possible, a priest will prefer to use but one set, as there is something to be said for the feeling that sees in the one chalice and paten a symbol of the truth that we are all partakers of one bread and one cup.

The paten should be made without any base, and so that it may fit into or safely rest upon the top of the chalice. This enables the vessels to be carried together. If the paten has any engraving upon it, it is better to place this on the lower side.

Besides the chalice and paten the following articles will be found convenient for the priest’s use in the celebration:

The Purificator

A purificator is a small square of damask with a narrow hem, and having a cross marked in the middle. If made of common linen it should be of somewhat coarse quality, as better adapted to absorb water. Its size is determined by the width of the chalice-bowl, the diameter of which, being multiplied by three, will give the length of one side of the purificator. The purificator is folded the same way twice, and is so more ready for use. It is used by the priest to cleanse the sacred vessels at the end of the service. The purificators should be kept in some suitable place in the sacristy. It is a more reverent custom to have a fresh and clean purificator at each celebration than to use one several times.

The Pall

Another article of utility is the pall. It is a piece of cardboard six to eight inches square, covered with linen. One side is marked in the centre with a cross, which is the common sign placed on all articles used at the altar. The size is determined by the diameter of the paten, which it should entirely cover. The pall is used in the celebration to keep the chalice covered, and so prevent dust, flies, etc., from getting into it, and to protect it from other defilement.

The pall has a square of linen caught upon its other side by a stitch at each corner. This is so placed as to be easy of removal in case the linen should by any chance become stained. A reverently disposed priest will take some proper measure to keep the rim of the chalice dry, but if the lining of the pall should ever become stained it should be removed and washed with befitting care, or burned.

The Chalice-Veil

As it is customary and seemly to cover the sacred vessels with a napkin or cloth of some kind, it is well to have one especially made and set apart for this purpose. This veil has come to be called the chalice-veil. It must not be confused with the thin lawn or fair linen one required by the rubric to cover the elements after the prayer of consecration. As the chalice-veil is used for a different purpose from that of the fair linen one, its different purpose is signified by its being made of a different material. The most serviceable material for the chalice-veil is silk, and of a size proportioned to the height of the sacred vessels. The size varies from twenty-one to twenty-three inches square. The veil is made more durable by being lined with silk, and may have an inner lining of linen. The sign of the cross is worked, not upon the centre, where it would be rubbed and worn, but in the middle of the lower third of the veil.

The use of the veil is to protect the sacred vessels while in the vestry and during the service before the communion, when the vessels are on the credence, from dust, insects, and accidental injury.

The Communion-Veil

There are two other articles which may be mentioned. First the "fair linen cloth", or communion-veil, before alluded to, and directed in the rubric, the use of which is peculiar to our own Church. It is not found in the Roman rite, but was required by our Reformers, out of reverence for the sacrament. It should therefore not be laid aside, and the pall alone used, as is the habit with some, but rather cherished as a peculiarity of our Church. Symbolically it is said to signify the cloth which after the crucifixion was wound about our blessed Lord’s body at His burial. As the Church bids us make it "fair", that is, beautiful, love and reverence will take care to make it as beautiful as it can be made.

The Corporal

Another article of utility is a square piece of linen called a corporal. It is placed when in use on the altar for the vessels to stand upon. It is useful, as will be seen by subsequent directions, for covering the paten during the communion, as the pall is needed for covering the chalice. It also, by the manner of its use, protects the chalice from the danger of being upset; and if crumbs get upon it, these are more easily gathered up (as it is movable) than if they fell upon the larger stationary linen cloth. The size of it is about sixteen inches square. It is folded into a smaller square by being first folded one way twice, and then folded twice the opposite way. So folded, it is, along with the fair linen cloth or communion-veil, kept in a silk case called a burse.

The Burse

The burse is a case made of two squares of cardboard covered with silk, and joined together at the bottom, having the sides fastened together by a triangular piece of silk. The burse is open at the top. It thus forms a pocket or case which can be opened, within which the corporal and linen veil may be placed. It is about nine inches square, and may be adorned on one side with a cross of the same design as that on the chalice-veil, with which it corresponds in colour.

[1] It is not commonly known that a clergyman may bring into this country a chalice and paten free of duty. Articles for the priest’s use, which he wears on his person or carries in his hand, it has been ruled, are free from import duty.

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