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14. Sacramental Utensils

Antiquities of the Christian Church
XVI. Of the Lord's Supper

14. Sacramental Utensils

Our Lord, at the institution of the sacrament, without doubt used the cup which was in common use among the Jews on festive occasions – simple and plain like the rude vessels of those days. A large silver goblet was in use at Jerusalem in the seventh century, which was said to be the identical cup that our Lord used on that occasion. At a period still later, the inhabitants of Valencia in Spain, also claimed, with equal probability, to be in possession of the identical cup which was presented by Christ to his disciples at that time.

The cup which was used by the primitive church was of no prescribed form, nor of any uniform material. It was made of wood, horn, glass, or marble, according to circumstances. But, at a very early period, it began to be wrought with great care, and to be made of the most costly materials, such as silver and gold, set with precious stones. In the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, the use of vessels made of horn, wood, glass, lead, tin, etc. was forbidden, and each church was required to have, at least, one cup and plate of silver.

Two cups were generally used, one exclusively by the clergy, the other, of larger dimensions, by the laity. These had handles attached to their sides. The sacramental cup of the Armenian church is said to contain two separate apartments, in one of which the wine is contained, and in the other the bread. And similar vessels seem to have been in use in the christian church previous to the eighth century. They then began to be made with a pipe attached to them, like the spout of a tea-pot, and the wine was received from the vessel by suction. These spouts were called fistulae eucharistae, pagilares, arundines, cannae, canales, pipae. These pipes were used to prevent the waste of any drop of the consecrated wine in the distribution of it. Such cups are still in use in some Lutheran churches.

The cup was at an early period ornamented with inscriptions and pictorial representations.

The platter for the distribution of the bread was, at first, a basket made of osier. Like the cup, it has from time to time been made of glass, marble, silver, and gold, varying in form, size, and style of execution, corresponding with that of the cup.

The pomp and superstition of catholic worship have added many other articles to the sacramental vessels, which are enumerated by Siegel, from whom the above is extracted.


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