Sacramental Glossary Term

Index of Terms

Primary Objects Used in Eucharistic



Bread Box




Chalice Veil


















Other Terms:






Credence Table





Gospel Side



Psalm 26






Oil Stock






Paschal Candle







Sanctuary Lamp

Sanctus Bell








Sursum Corda






Votive candle



Primary Objects Use in Eucharistic”

          Alb: White linen vestment worn by clergy and acolyte. In the early church the basic liturgical garment. It has been in wide liturgical use by Anglicans since the nineteenth century.

          Ambry: Enclosed niche in sanctuary wall for reserved sacrament. A box or cupboard in the wall of a church building or in a sacristy where the Reserved Sacrament is kept.

          Bread Box: Container for peoples' hosts or breads.

          Burse: Silk pocket containing Corporal and extra Purificator. Color of the day.

          Cassock: Long black garment worn by Chalice Bearers.

          Chalice: The Cup used for the wine at Communion.

          Chalice Veil: Silk square covering for the Chalice. Color of the day.

          Chasuble: An outer vestment the priest may wear at the Eucharist. Color of the day.

          Cincture: Cord worn around waist by clergy and acolytes.

          Corporal: Linen nearly two feet square with cross near the front center. It is set on the fair linen directly under the chalice.

          Credence: A shelf or table near the Altar on the Epistle side on which various items are placed in readiness for their use in the Eucharist.

          Cruets: Receptacles for wine and water.

          Host: Priest's large wafer.

          Mundatory: A towel similar to Purificator but larger and oblong. Used at Baptism.

          Pall: Square of stiffened linen.

          Paten: The bread plate for hosts.

          Piscina: Sink in the Sacristy in which the Chalice, Paten and Purificators are rinsed after a service, since this drain leads directly to the ground.

          Purificator: A cloth for wiping the sides of the Chalice during communion.

          Reredos: Carved work behind the High Altar.

          Stole: Scarf-like band worn by priest or deacon. Color of the season.

          Surplice: A white linen vestment, loose fitting, worn by the clergy, lay-readers, etc. over a black cassock.

 A rectangular neckpiece or collar worn with an alb. The amice is generally not worn by a low; church person.

Burse: A burse is one of the furnishings of the altar for communion, and is a pocket case made from two squares of some rigid material covered in cloth. The burse sits on top of the chalice, paten and veil, and serves to hold a corporal. Often, the burse also serves to hide an extra purificator.

Cassock: a long garment, usually black, used in non-Eucharistic liturgies. A black robe worn by priests or deacons, and are usually worn with a white over-garment called a surplice. A Canon may wear a black cassock with red piping, or (with permission) may wear a purple cassock. Deans and archdeacons may wear black cassocks with red or purple piping. Lay readers, choir members and acolytes can also (and often do) wear cassocks.

Chalice: the cup used at the Eucharist.

Censer: (Also called a thurible) - a vessel in which incense is burned on charcoal. A censer is usually carried in processions and recessionals by a special acolyte called a thurifer.


Chalice: A chalice is the cup used to contain the wine used at Communion.

Chasuble: A chasuble is a type of vestment worn by the celebrant during Communion. It is usually oval in shape, with a hole for the head to pass through.

Chrism: A mixture of olive oil and balsam, and sometimes used at baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and some blessings of altars and other church fixtures. Chrism is not the same as other holy oils such as those used for the unction of the sick. No balsam is added to oil used for unction.

Colors: Color plays an import part in the designation of seasons and feasts in the Anglican Church. Each church season has a color associated with it. Advent is purple (the color of preparation and penitence) or Marian Blue (in honor of Mary), Christmas is white (the color celebration), Epiphany is green (the color of growth; growth of the gospel message from Jew to Gentile - re: the three Wise Men), Lent is purple, Easter is white, and the season after Pentecost is green (for the growth of the church). Weddings and funerals are usually occasions for white (the color of celebration) while Pentecost Sunday and ordinations are red, to signify the presence of the Holy Spirit. Black is occasionally used one day a year -- Good Friday.

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Cope: a decorated liturgical cape used especially in processions and on solemn occasions.

Cotta: A cotta is a short, white outer garment often worn by choir members and acolytes to cover their cassocks.

Corporal: A square piece of linen laid on top of the altar cloth at Communion.

Credence Table: A small table or shelf on the epistle side of the altar that holds the bread, wine and water before consecration.

Crucifer: A person in a religious procession who carries a large cross (a processional cross), and leads the procession into the church and the recession out of the church.

Crucifix: is a cross bearing the likeness of the body of Christ on it.

Cruet: a vessel (glass or metal) used to hold the water and wine for the Eucharist.

Flagon: A container that is larger than a cruet and is used instead of, or in addition to cruets at larger celebrations of Communion.

Font: A basin for water to be used in church baptisms.

Gospel Side: The gospel side is on the right-hand side of the priest, as determined by where he is facing when celebrating the Holy Communion. The Gospel side is thus dependant on whether the altar is located against the wall or free-standing. Originally, the priest celebrated communion facing the people and thus the Gospel Side was the north side of the Church building [the left side, when facing the altar]. In medieval times the altar was pushed against the west wall, and the Gospel side then became the right side, when facing the altar.

Host: The consecrated "bread" part of the Holy Communion. In most Anglican churches a wafer is used as the host, but an increasing number of churches are using actual baked bread. The wafer the priest breaks at the fraction is called a "priest's host."

Incense: A fragrant powder burned in a small dish or pot; used during the service or in the processions. Some say incense is used to recall of one of the three gifts of the Wise Men to the Christ Child. Scripture commends its usage, particularly in Psalm 141, where prayers are asked to be like incense.

Lavabo: The name originally referred to the ceremonial washing of the priests hands before he or she celebrated Communion, while saying the words, "I will wash my hands in innocence." (Psalm 26:6). The name lavabo also refers to the small towel used to dry the hands and the bowl into which water is poured during the washing.

Maniple: A liturgical napkin. The maniple is worn draped over the celebrant's arm.

Missal: The altar book - The big book on the Altar or Holy Table containing the services of Holy Eucharist.

Monstrance: a special container in the shape of a cross with a circular, clear glass (or crystal) receptacle in its center. A monstrance is designed to hold a consecrated Host that is exposed for adoration. The monstrance is designed to "demonstrate" the real presence of Christ.

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Narthex: In church architecture, the narthex is an enclosed space at the entry end of the nave of a building; the area in the church building inside the doors and in front of the nave. The narthex is usually enclosed (primarily to provide a buffer between the outside weather and the heating/cooling inside), and is the area where the procession gathers prior to the service.

Nave: The main part of a church building; the place where the congregation sits. In medieval England the derogatory term "knave" (commoner) developed from nave, because the nave is the area of the building where the "common" people sit.

Oil Stock: A special container designed to hold holy oil used in unction and at baptisms. Oil stocks are usually about as wide as a quarter, and about an inch in length. A cotton ball inside the oil stock holds the holy oil.

Paschal Candle: A very large candle in a very tall holder and placed in a prominent display in the epistle side of the sanctuary. The candle is lighted throughout the Easter season, and during baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

Paten: the small plate used for the bread at the Eucharist. The paten is the vessel used to contain the consecrated bread during a Communion.

Piscina: The piscina is the stone or porcelain basin (traditionally set in the south wall of the Sanctuary) from which a drain pipe carries to the ground the water used in the ablutions. It is also the most convenient way for many Altar Guilds to dispose of the remaining consecrated wine after a service. The piscina is never, ever to be hooked up to the building's plumbing.

Predella: (Also sometimes called a footpace) The raised area or platform on which some Altars or Holy Tables stand. The word is Italian and literally means "a footstool."

Pulpit: A raised platform or podium used for the sermon or homily; generally located in the front of the gospel side of the nave. In some Colonial church buildings and in many non-Episcopal churches, the pulpit is in the center, to signify the importance of the sermon.

Purificator: A purificator is a small piece of white linen used at Communion to cleanse the chalice, by wiping the rim of the chalice with the purificator.

Purple: The primary color used in the season of Lent, and the most popular color used in Advent. Purple signifies penitence and preparation. Purple was originally a sign of royalty, as purple dye was rare. Thus, a purple clergy shirt (or some shade of violet) usually indicates that the wearer is a bishop.

Pyx: A small container used for transporting the Host. Most commonly used by a priest or LEM when taking Communion to a sick person or shut-in.

Pay: A small container used for transporting the Host. Most commonly used by a priest when taking Communion to a sick person or shut-in.

Rochet: A bishop's full-length vestment similar to a surplice with full sleeves, and usually worn under a chimere.

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Sacramentary: Another name for the altar book or missal.

Sanctuary Lamp: A lamp hanging somewhere in the sanctuary. Sometimes there are three lamps, sometimes seven, but usually only one. A single, continuously burning sanctuary lamp indicates the presence of the Reserved Sacrament.

Sanctus Bell: The actual name for the bell is a "sacring bell," but most refer it as a "sanctus bell" because it is rung at the time of the sanctus.

Sedilia: The seats inside the sanctuary, used by clergy and acolytes.

Sacraments: According to the prayer book, sacraments are "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace." Sacraments are physical actions that point us to deeper realities than we are able to experience with our five senses. The Anglican Church recognizes two major, or "gospel" sacraments, and five minor sacraments, or sacramental acts. The two major sacraments, Baptism and Communion, and called gospel sacraments because Jesus told us (in the gospels) to do them until he comes again. The five sacramental acts (or minor sacraments) are not all necessarily required of all Christians. They are Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, Reconciliation, and Unction.

Sacristan: In earlier times the sacristan was the man in charge of the sacristy. Some cathedrals will still designate a priest as a Canon Sacristan, but now the usage of the word has largely become interchangeable with the word "sexton."

Sacristy: A room near the altar where the communion vessels, altar hangings, candlesticks, etc. are kept and cleaned. The room is often seen as the exclusive domain of the Altar Guild.

Sanctus: The part of the Holy Communion service that beings with the words, "Holy, Holy, Holy."

Stole: a long thin liturgical vestment worn only by the clergy. Bishops and priests wear it around the neck and the shoulder; deacons wear it over the left shoulder.

Surplice: a wide-sleeved white vestment often made of linen and worn over a cassock.

Sursum Corda: The Sursum Corda is part of an antiphon that has been in the Eucharist since the third century.

Tabernacle: A small cabinet (sometimes a vessel) designed to contain the Reserved Sacrament. The tabernacle may be found built into the altar, sitting on the altar, on the retable, or it may be built into another part of the sanctuary. In very Low Churches the tabernacle will not be found anywhere.

Transept: The section of a cross-shaped (cruciform) church at right angles to the nave. It is also the name for the aisle in front of the first pew, that separates the nave from the chancel.

Tunicle: A high church garment - a kind of ecclesiastical coat - worn by a deacon or server during certain celebrations.

Veil: From Latin vela: a sail or curtain. In the Church, the veil refers to the solid cloth that covers the chalice and paten at the Eucharist, or the loose-woven netting that is draped over crosses (and sometimes pictures) during Lent and Holy Week.

Vestments: the clothing appropriate to persons performing liturgical actions.

Votive candle: A devotional candle placed in a church or chapel in some "higher" Anglican Churches. Votive candles are usually small, short candles in a special glass holder.

Wafer: The bread part of the Lord's Supper signifying to us the Body of Christ, and is often an unleavened, and very thin cracker-like substance. After the wafer is consecrated, it is usually called the Host. Sometimes the wafer is imprinted with a cross, sometimes it is smooth. Wafers that will serve as priest's hosts are larger than the people's hosts, and can range from one inch to several inches in diameter. The people's host is usually about a half inch in size.

Wine: The beverage portion of the Lord's Supper. As Scripture reminds us, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:27-28) In the Anglican Church, wine is used at communion (instead of grape juice) and is often a port wine.

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