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

A very singular custom prevailed at one time in many places of depositing the Sacred Host in the altar when no relics could be obtained. Durandus, Bishop of Mende, who died and was buried at Rome in 1296, says in his Rationale Divinorum, p. 54, that when genuine relics cannot be had the altar must not be consecrated without the Holy Eucharist. The same custom was once very prevalent in England while that country was Catholic. This we learn, among other sources, from the Council of Calcuith, held in A.D. 816, where the following enactment was made: “When a church is built let it be hallowed by the bishop of the diocese; afterwards let the Eucharist which the bishop consecrates at that Mass be laid up, together with the relics contained in the little box, and kept in the same basilica; but if he cannot find any other relics, then will the Eucharist, most of all, serve the purpose, for it is the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Church of Our Fathers, vol. i. p. 41, note). This custom lasted in England up to the fifteenth century (ibid.) Three particles of incense, as is also the rule now, used to be enclosed in the little box where the relics were deposited (ibid. 42).

Another custom that prevailed in certain places was to enclose with the regular relics portions of the instruments employed in torturing the martyrs, as well as documents of high veneration. From a record of St. Paul’s Church, London, in 1295, we find that its jasper altar had deposited in it, besides the relics of SS. Philip and Andrew and those of SS. Denis and Blasius, a relic also of the veritable cross upon which St. Andrew was crucified (ibid. 254).








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