The ciborium is an altar-vessel
in which the consecrated particles for the Communion of the laity are
kept. It need not necessarily be made of gold or silver, since the
Roman Ritual (tit. cap. i, n. 5) merely prescribes that it be made ex
solida decentique materia. It may even be made of copper provided it be
gilt (Cong. Sac. Rit., 31 August, 1867). If made of any material other
than gold, the inside of the cup must be gilt (Cong. Episc. et Reg., 26
July, 1588). It must not be made of ivory (ibid.) or glass (Cong. Sac.
Rit., 30 January, 1880). Its base should be wide. its stem should have
a knob, and it may be embellished and adorned like the chalice (vide
supra). There should be a slight round elevation in the centre, at the
bottom, in order to facilitate the taking out of the particles when
only a few remain therein.
The cover, which should fit tightly, may be
of pyramidal or a ball shape, and should be surmounted by a cross. The
ciborium ought to be at least seven inches high. It is not consecrated,
but only blessed by the bishop or priest having the requisite faculties
according to the form of the "Benedictio tabernaculi" (Rit. Rom., tit.
iii, xxiii). As long as the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in it, the
ciborium must be covered with a veil of precious material of white
colour (Rit. Rom., tit. iv, 1, n. 5), which may be embroidered in gold
and silver and have fringes about the edges. When it does not actually
contain the Blessed Sacrament, this veil must be removed. Hence, after
its purification at Mass, or when filled with new particles to be
consecrated, it is placed on the altar, the veil cannot be put on it.
Even from the Consecration to the Communion it remains covered. Just
before placing it in the tabernacle after Communion the veil is placed
on it. It is advisable to have two ciboria as the newly consecrated
particles must never be mixed with those which were consecrated before.
In places in which Holy Communion is carried solemnly to the sick, a
smaller ciborium of the same style is used for this purpose. The little
pyx used for carrying Holy Communion to the sick is made of the same
material as that of which the ciborium is made. It must be gilt on the
inside, the lower part should have a slight elevation in the centre,
and it is blessed by the form "Benedictio tabernaculi" (Rit. Rom., tit.
viii, xxiii). The ciborium and pyx lose their blessing in the same
manner as the chalice loses its consecration.
Written by A.J. Schulte. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler. The
Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert
Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D.,
Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York