Chalice (2)

Chalice Of this important ecclesiastical vessel we give the following additional particulars, which serve to illustrate their various forms and applications:

I. Kinds. —There were four principal sorts of chalices: (1) communeal, that used by the celebrant; (2) ministerial, large and small, for communicating the faithful; (3) offertory, in which the deacons received the wine offered by communicants; possibly the chalices found in tombs of the catacombs were those into which the deacon poured the wine, and were religiously preserved for burial with their late owners; (4) baptismal, used for communion in the case of the newly baptized, and for administering to them milk and honey.

At that early period, when the administration of the Eucharist was connected, both as regards time and locality, with the feasts of charity (agapae), the distinction between the vessels used for each purpose was less strongly drawn than afterwards came to be the case, and in the earliest centuries there was little or: no distinction of either form or decoration between the Eucharistic cup and that of the domestic table.

Besides the chalices actually used in the rites of the church, vessels called "calices" were suspended from the arches of the ciborium and even from the intercolumniations of the nave and other parts of the church as ornaments. Many of these were, however, most probably cups or vases, not such as would have been used for the administration or consecration of the Eucharist. The ansatae in the 6th century, being of great weight, were often suspended by chains above the altar.

II. Form and Position. —In a chalice there are four parts — the foot, the stem, the knob, and the bowl. The foot should extend considerably beyond the bowl, to prevent the possibility of its being upset. On one division of the foot it is usual to engrave a representation of our Lord's Passion, which should always be turned towards the celebrant. The stem unites the foot to the bowl, and on it is fixed the knob for the convenience of holding the chalice. The knob is often enriched with enamel, jewels, tracery, and tabernacle work, while the stem is frequently engraved or enameled. The height of the stem is generally about four inches, and seldom exceeds six. The bowl should vary from three to six inches in dimension, and be of a proportionate depth; it should have a plain rim of about an inch, below which it may be enriched with engravings, inscriptions, and chasings. The chalice should never have turnover lips, which are extremely liable to cause accident in communicating.

In mediaeval chalices the pommel, or knob, and foot were usually covered with niello-work, gems, and elaborate chasings. The foot was indented in order to keep it steady when laid down to drain upon the paten, according to ancient usage, before the effusions were drunk by the priest, or at the commencement of mass. At York the curves are wanting, but in one case the foot has a crucifix. Until the 12th century the communion was given in both kinds, but subsequent to that date the chalice was administered only to the celebrant and his acolytes; the vessel, therefore, which had previously been of large dimensions, for the use of all the faithful, and was provided with two handles, shrank into a cup-like form about that period in the Western Church. The Greeks retain communion in both kinds, and consequently the two-handled chalice. Several of this shape are still preserved in the treasury of St. Mark's, Venice. In the 11th and 12th centuries the stalk was short, the foot large, the knob in the center thick, the bowl wide; after that the cup became small, the stalk long, and the knob tall and flat, and in some cases enriched with tabernacled figures of saints. In the 15th century it underwent a further modification, the knob became diamond-shaped in profile, the cup more long and shallow, and the foot indented, like the petals of a flower.

According to Alexander of Hales and Leo of Chartres the chalice should stand on the right side of the paten, but by the Salisbury use it is placed behind it.

III. Use. —In 418 pope Zosimus restrained the use of the chalice to the cells of the faithful and of clerks. Pope Martin V gave it to the Roman people, and the Council of Basle permitted it to the Bohemians. The emperor of Constantinople, at his coronation, partook of the chalice; and Clement VI allowed the king of Gaul to partake at pleasure, although other princes were permitted the privilege only at their coronation and at the hour of death. The pope, at solemn celebration, communicates the cardinal deacon with the chalice. The monks of St. Bernard dipped the bread in the wine. Pope Victor III and the emperor Henry of Luxembourg are said to have been poisoned by the chalice.

The denial of the cup to the laity by the Roman Church was introduced at the close of the 12th century, and confirmed in 1414 by the Council of Constance.

IV. Materials and Specimens. —It has been asserted that in the apostolic age chalices of wood were in use; but for this assertion there is no early authority. Glass was no doubt in use from a very early date. Pope Zephyrinus, cir. 202, ordered the material to be glass; and St. Jerome speaks, of a bishop of Toulouse who bore the Lord's body in a wicker canister and his blood in glass. Tertullian also alludes to the latter' material. Wooden chalices were in use until the 9th century. St. Boniface said, when permitting their use: "One golden priests used wooden chalices; now; on the contrary, wooden priests use golden chalices." The Council of Rheims, in 226, forbade glass, and in 883 the use of wood, tin, glass, and copper. Pope Leo IV, in 847, prohibited wood or glass; the Council of Tribur, in 897, proscribed wood; the Council of Cealchythe, in 785, forbade wood; but Elfric's canons, in .957, allowed wood, probably owing to the devastations of the Danes; yet, three years later, king Edgar's canons allowed only molten metal. Honorius, Caesarius of Aries, and St. Benedict used, or at least mention, glass chalices, which certainly were not disused in the 8th century. Glass was considered improper, owing to its fragility; horn, from blood entering into its composition, by the Council of Cealcythe; wood, from its porousness and absorbent nature; and brass and bronze, because liable to rust. In 1222 the Archbishop of Canterbury forbade tin or pewter; but tin was used in France so lately as 1793, and by the canons of 1604 the wine was to be brought in "a clean and sweet standing pot or stoup of pewter, if not of purer metal." The most precious metals and materials were, however, at an early date used. Onyx, ivory, sardonyx, and agate are mentioned by early French writers; marble is spoken of by Gregory of Tours; gold and silver are mentioned by St. Augustine; in 227 pope Urban required the latter; in the time of pope Gregory II chalices were jeweled, and Tertullian mentions that they had carvings of the Good Shepherd; from the 6th to the 13th century their handles were sculptured with animals or foliage, and blue, red, and green enamel was used in their ornamentation. At Clairvaux, St. Malachy's chalice was surrounded with little bells; one at Rheims, of gold, was inscribed with an anathema, imprecated upon any person who should steal it. Sometimes the maker's name was engraved upon it; one, formerly belonging to St. Alban's Abbey, is now at Trinity College, Oxford, and another ancient specimen, of the 12th century, at Chichester; three of early date are at York. Chalices of earthenware or pewter were buried in the grave with priests. There is a chalice, that of St. Remigius, of the 12th century, at Paris; St. Wolfgang's cup, cir. 994, and the chalice of Weintgarten are preserved at Ratisbon; another is at Mayence. There is a Jacobean chalice of wood at Goodrich Court, and a German chalice, of the 15th century, is in a case in the British Museum. There are several chalices still preserved, one of ivory and silver, of the 14th century, at Milan; that of Rheims, of gold, with enamel and gems, of the 12th century, now in the Imperial Library at Rome; that of Troyes, cir. 1220; and one of Cologne, of the 13th century, with the apostles under niches below the rim sometimes sacred subjects from the life of our Lord adorn the base; another at St. Gereon's, of the 15th century, has only an arabesque pattern; but a beautiful specimen at Hildesheim, of the 13th century, represents, in compartments, the offering of a lamb by Abel, Melchisedek's oblation of wine, the brazen serpent, and the bunch of grapes from Eshcol. The use of bronze is exceptional, and perhaps peculiar to the Irish monks, probably because of the tradition that our Savior was affixed to the cross by nails of this make. This traditional use of bronze was no doubt continued by the successors of the Irish missionaries in the south of Germany, and explains why the Kremsmiinster chalice is of that material. The precious metals were, however, from a very early, perhaps the earliest, period most probably the usual material of the chalice. We have at least proof of the use of both gold and silver in the sacred vessels in the beginning of the 4th century, for we are told by Optatus of Milevi that in the Diocletian persecution the Church of Carthage possessed many "ornamenta" of gold and silver (Opt. Mil. De Schism. Donat. 1, 17). The Church of Cirta in Nsumidia at the same time possessed two golden and six silver chalices (Gesta. Purgat. Cceciliasni, in the Works of Optatus). Many instances of gifts of chalices of the precious metals to the churches of Rome by successive popes are to be found in the Lib. Pont. Of these the following may deserve special mention; a great chalice (calix major) with handles anti adorned with gems, weighing fifty-eight pounds; a great chalice with a" syphon (cum Cyphone) or tube, weighing thirty-six pounds; a covered (spanoclystus, i.e. ἑπανώκλειστος) chalice of gold, weighing thirty-two pounds; all three given by pope Leo III (795).

The earliest chalice still existing is probably that found, with a paten, at Gourdon, in France. This is of gold ornamented with thin slices of garnets. With it were found one hundred and four gold coins of emperors of the East; twenty-five of Justin I (518-527), in a fresh condition and' unworn, were the latest in date. The deposit was, therefore, probably made in the early part of the 6th century. Of not much later date were the splendid chalices belonging to the basilica of Monza, no longer in existence, but of which representations, evidently tolerably accurate, have been preserved in a large painting probably executed in the latter half of the 15th century, and now in the library of that church. These chalices were both of gold, set with jewels, and their weight is variously stated at from one hundred and five to one hundred and seventy ounces. There is ground for believing that these chalices were in possession of the Church of Monza before A.D. 600. In the sacristy of the Church of Santa Anastasia at Rome a chalice is preserved as a relic, as it is said to have been used by St. Jerome; the bowl is of white opaque glass with some ornament in relief, the foot is of metal. A chalice is preserved (? at Maestricht), which is believed to have belonged to St. Lambert, bishop of that city (Ob 1:21); it is of metal (? silver) gilt, the bowl hemispherical, the foot a frustum of a cone; the whole without ornament. A chalice of exactly the same form is to be seen in an illumination in the very ancient Gospels preserved in the library of Corpus Christi College at Cambridge, and known as St. Augustine's. Until the year 1792 the Abbey of Chelles, in the diocese of Paris, possessed a most splendid example of a golden chalice, which ancient inventories asserted to have been the work of St. Eligius, and therefore., to date from the first half of the 7th century.

An engraving of it has been preserved, and the character of the work corresponds with the alleged date. It is obviously an instance of transition from earlier to later forms, though somewhat exceptional from the great depth of the bowl. It was about a foot high and nearly ten inches in diameter. A singular exception in point of form was the chalice found with the body of St. Cuthbert when his relics were examined in the year 1104; this was of small size and in its lower part of gold and of the figure of a lion, the bowl, which was attached to the back of the lion, being cut from an onyx. This was probably not made for a chalice, but had been presented to him and converted to that use. Of the 8th century, a very remarkable example still exists in the convent of Kremsmünster, in Upper Austria; this chalice is of bronze ornamented with niello and incrustations of silver. — As the inscription shows that it was the gift of Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, it is probably earlier than A.D. 788. One of the bass-reliefs of the altar of St. Ambrogio at Milan (finished in 835) gives a good example of the form of a chalice in the beginning of the 9th century. It has a bowl, foot, and end handles.

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