Objects Used at Mass

The Chalice and its Accoutrements


A vessel traditionally ornate and made of gold or silver, for it holds the wine which becomes the Precious Blood of Christ. The chalice is a striking figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


A linen cloth the size of a napkin, used for wiping the chalice and the fingers and mouth of the priest after Communion.  It is spread over the cup of the chalice at the beginning and end of Mass.


A plate of gold or silver upon which the priest's host (bread to be consecrated) rests from the beginning of Mass until the Offertory.

The priest's paten can also be used to catch particles during the distribution of Holy Communion; but at a Traditional Mass, there is usually a special paten with a long handle for this purpose.


A square, pocket-shaped piece of linen with a piece of firm material inserted to stiffen it (usually cardboard or plastic). The pall is placed over the chalice to prevent dust or other matter from falling into it.

The name of pall is also given to the covering which goes over the casket at a Requiem Mass, or over the catafalque (symbolic casket) on All Souls Day.

Chalice Veil

The cloth which covers the chalice until the Offertory, and again after the Communion.  The material, color, and pattern usually match the vestments for the liturgical day or season.

Corporal and Burse

The corporal is a square piece of linen, about the size of a purificator (when both are unfolded) or larger. It is spread out on the altar, and the chalice is placed upon it. During the Mass the Sacred Host rests for a time on the corporal.

The burse is a square container for the corporal when the latter is not in use. Like the veil, it is also usually designed to match the vestments. Before Mass and at the end, the burse is placed atop the covered chalice, as pictured bottom left.

Miscellaneous Items

Illustrations not to scale.


Vessel containing the Precious Body of Christ in the form of consecrated Hosts, or (at Mass) hosts to be consecrated. When not in use, the ciborium is stored in the tabernacle.


The glass vessels that hold the water and wine used for the Sacrifice.

Most of the wine is poured into the chalice and changed into the Precious Blood of Christ; however, some is reserved for pouring over the priest's fingers at the end of the Mass.

Some of the water is used for the lavabo (explained below), and a drop or so is poured into the wine that is consecrated; but most of it is used to wash the inside of the chalice at the end of Mass, and is consumed by the priest.

Incense Boat and Spoon

A liturgical vessel for the incense. At the appropriate times, incense is scooped out of the boat with a spoon, and dropped onto the coal in the thurible.


The thurible or censer holds the incense that is burnt at High Mass. The incense melts or burns (depending on the type) over a hot coal and releases smoke and a strong, pleasant fragrance. Many varieties of incense use frankincense as an ingredient.

The thurible is suspended by chains (usually three) and swung with the lid closed. There are openings in the lid to allow the smoke and aroma to escape. To add incense, the thurifer pulls the lid up by another chain attached to a handle.

Aspersory and Aspergillum

The aspersory or aspersion bucket holds holy water for the sprinkling rite (asperges, or in Eastertide, vidi aquam) that takes place just before Mass on Sundays.

The aspergillum is the corresponding rod with a cavity and holes for taking in holy water and sprinkling things to be blessed (aspersion).

Lavabo Bowl
and Finger Towel

These are used, along with the water cruet, for the ritual washing of the priest's fingers at the Offertory.

At a High Mass, one altar server pours water from the cruet over the priest's fingers while holding a bowl underneath to catch the water. The other server holds the finger towel with which the priest afterwards dries his hands. At a Low Mass, one server handles all of the above, by draping the finger towel over his left forearm.

Candle Lighter with Snuffer

A long, hollow wand used to light the altar candles before Mass, and to snuff them out afterward. It contains a wick which is lit from another source. A switch pushes the wick out of a curved tube at the end to increase the flame on the wick, or draws the wick back inside to diminish the flame or extinguish it. A cup on the other side of the same end is for snuffing out the candles.

Altar Bells

Also called sanctus bells because they are rung at the beginning of the Sanctus ("Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts," etc.) which introduces the Canon of the Mass; however, they are also customarily rung at other times (e.g., at the Quam Oblationem).

Long-Handled Paten

Used for the Distribution of the Eucharist. Before the priest places the Sacred Host on the tongue of each communicant, the plate is held under the communicant's chin to catch any particles or Hosts which might accidentally fall. As a secondary precaution where customary, a cloth affixed to the Communion rail and beneath the paten is held by the communicant while he receives the Blessed Sacrament.

"The Chalice and Its Accoutrements" illustrations and accompanying text adapted from Mass and the Sacraments by Fr. John Laux, M.A.; Benziger Brothers 1934.
"Miscellaneous Items"-- original illustrations and text by Todd Aylard.
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