(Lat. patina, "a dish") is the name of a small plate, or salver, used for the elements of the bread in the celebration of the Eucharist. It was so formed in ancient times as to fit the chalice (q.v.) or cup as a cover, and was invented by pope Zephyrinus. While the practice of the Offertory (q.v.) continued, there was a special paten for the bread-offering. In the Roman Catholic Church, in which the unleavened wafer-bread is used, and the communion is distributed from a distinct vessel called Pyx (q.v.), the paten is a small circular plate, always of the same material with the chalice. It is most commonly made of gold or silver, and is often richly chased or carved, and studded with precious stones. In some places the deacon, after the Lord's Prayer, having received the paten from the subdeacon, lifts it up so as to be seen by the people, in order to notify the congregation that the communion is about to commence. In the Greek Church it stands on the left of the chalice. Besides the altar-patens, there were
(1) ministerial, of larger size, for containing the bread given to the people;
(2) chrismal, hollow in shape, and used for containing chrism for baptismal confirmation;
(3) ornamental, with carvings and symbolical images, set on altars as decorations.
The word is retained in the Prayerbook of the English Episcopal Church, the (American) Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Reformed Episcopal Church. The Lutherans also retain the name.