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holy hardware n.  1.      Objects and accessories used in a church that are made of metal or glass and therefore require special maintenance and care, especially those objects and vessels that are used in the liturgy or church service such as chalices, patens, ciboria (plural of ciborium), and cruets.

Do you know the names of all the equipment that gets used during the church service? The congregation at St. Peter learned a lot about ‘holy hardware’ at Sunday’s coffee time talk. The equipment includes bowls, cups, glass pitchers and linens. Most of these have Latin names and placement and use follow a very specific protocol.

  • Credence Table: the small table situated near the altar on which the items used during the Eucharist are placed. This includes pitchers of water and wine, the Ciborium (bread cup) and the lavabo (finger wash cup).

To vest the chalice, the following objects are used - in the order listed:

  • Corporal: Linen square carried in the ‘burse’. This has a cross at the bottom to indicate in which direction it must be placed (back edge closest to the altar). The purpose of the corporal is the catch blessed bread crumbs and wine.  
  • Chalice: cup used for wine (usually red-for visibility within the cup). The chalice is most often made of gold or silver, metals that have germ killing capabilities. 
  •  Purificator: small linen square folded in thirds placed across the chalice. It is the ‘holy napkin’ and must be burnt if it becomes too soiled.  
  • Paten: small plate which rests on the purificator.  
  • Pall: small square of stiffened linen placed on top of the paten. The original purpose was to keep flies out of the wine. I our church, it has been known to keep out small spiders from time to time! NOTE: if a fly does get in the wine the Priest has a choice of fly disposal – throw it out on the earth, burn it or eat it!  
  • Veil: Material (usually in a seasonal colour) centered over pall. This is of recent origin – prescribed in 1570!  
  • Burse: a flat, square, fabric-covered case in which a folded corporal is carried to and from an altar in church. This once was attached to a strap worn over the shoulder of the priest. Hence our word ‘purse’. This is place over the veil

Other liturgical hardware:  

  • Aspergillum: a rod with a perforated container, user for sprinkling holy water. Not often used in churches now – it rather dampened the congregation
  • Small church bells: Demonstrated by Lincoln in an ‘air band’ style (we do not have actual bells!). Used formerly to alert large congregations of important sections of the liturgy
  • Processional Cross: a crucifix to be carried at the head of a procession

Many thanks to the Altar Guild who carefully clean and maintain the ‘holy hardware’ and make sure every item is in its correct place before each service.