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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

Although it would be more proper that the breads for altar purposes should be made by the sacred ministers themselves, yet, as the modern way of making and preparing them for use is open to no abuse, the duty is often entrusted to pious members of the congregation—for the most part to the Sisters who may be attached to any particular church.

In ancient times it was considered a great honor to be allowed to make these breads, and we find some of the nobles of the land offering their services for this pious work. It is related of St. Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia (tenth century), that he used to sow the wheat in the field with his own hands, cut it down afterwards when ripe, winnow it himself, grind it into flour, and finally make it into bread for the use of the Holy Sacrifice (Martène, De Antiquis Eccl. Ritibus, f. 13; Lives of the Saints, September 28). A similar story is related of St. Radegunde, Queen of France, in the sixth century.

In the good old days of Catholic England the synodical decrees relating to the making of the altar-bread were very strict, as the following will show: “We also command that the ofletes which in the Holy Mystery ye offer to God ye either bake yourselves or your servants before you, that ye may know that it is neatly and cleanly done” (Dr. Rock, Church of Our Fathers, vol. i. p. 156, note). The Bishop of Lincoln (thirteenth century) thus addressed the clergy of his diocese: “More care than ordinary must be taken to see that the ofletes be made of pure wheat. While the work of preparing them is going on the ministers of the church who make them ought to sit in a decent place and be dressed in surplices. The instrument for baking these ofletes ought to be anointed with wax only, not with oil or any greasy material” (ibid.)








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