Friday, 14 October 2011

Church Terms: What is a Sacrarium?

A Sacrarium

In a church near the altar, normally in the sacristy, one will find a basin that is used to clean sacred vessels after Mass. It is also used as the place in which to dispose of any materials that were used in the sacraments, including disposing of the water that was used for the liturgical ablutions.

The purpose of having a special basin is to ensure that the water and other materials used during Mass, for the consecration of the bread and wine and which are therefore linked in some way to the Blessed Sacrament, are returned directly to the earth as a sign of respect and not by just dumping them down into a normal everyday household drain.

The basin is known as piscine and the actual drain, in the piscine, is known as the sacrarium. Anglicans usually refer to the basin, calling it a piscina. Roman Catholics usually refer to the drain, and by extension, the basin, calling it a sacrarium.

The sacrarium can be found in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches, and a similar vessel is used in Eastern Orthodox churches. At least it should still be found in all Roman Catholic churches, in my opinion. 

With all the emphasis we place on love and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I would really like to believe that everything used in connection with the Blessed Sacrament will also portray our profound belief in the Real Presence, body, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus, in the consecrated bread and wine.


  1. The use of the sacrarium is for the sacred things used appertaining to the roman Cathoic Mass . It should not be used to dispose of the Precious Blood.

    I do not understand the Anglicans or the Lutherans using the sacrarium as their "communion" is not the Real Presence; neither is their priesthood, the real Priesthood. Has something changed in between Luther and Henry VIII which suddenly validates their "sacrament"?

    If nothing has changed, then surely their practices should be out of the equation. They are simply not Catholic and neither are they in unity with the Roman Catholoic Church.

    We should not confuse their practices with ours.

  2. The sacrarium is not, as you say ordinarily to be used to dispose of the Blessed Sacrament. The body and blood should preferably be consumed. The intention of the sacrarium is so that any particles that may remain are disposed in the sacrarium into the ground and thereby avoid accidentally disposing of it into a drain. Also, you may find that there are times when the sacrarium is used to dispose of the Blessed Sacrament. Example: If for whatever reason a consecrated host is found all covered in mould and old. The priest could, instead of consuming it, place it in a container of water and, when it has dissolved, pour it into the sacrarium to dispose of it.

    The fact that Anglicans and Lutherans do not, in our opinion, need a sacrarium or a piscine is totally irrelevant. The fact is that they do have it in many of their churches.

    I don't think it is up to us to challenge why the Anglicans have a sacrarium. I am an Anglican convert. (1987) I can tell you that as an ex Anglo-Catholic I truly believed in the Real Presence at that time. Whether Anglicans are right or wrong regarding the belief in the Real Presence is another subject. However when I was an Anglican I treated the species according to what I believed at that time. Personally I would rather have the Anglican treating the species with dignity and reverence, if that is what they believe, than treat it with disrespect, contrary to their conscience.