The Cathedral of Saint Thomas More News:

Liturgical Vessels


Book of the Gospel – contains only the Gospel readings; used on solemn occasions and is carried by the deacon, or in his absence, the reader.  Only the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel from this book, which is sometimes decorative.

Hymnal/Missalette – contains all parts of the Mass for a specific season in the liturgical year, including instructions on when to stand, sit, or kneel.  They help the congregation participate fully in the liturgy.  They are normally kept at the church entrance or in the pews/seats.

Lectionary – contains the scripture readings for Mass.  It is usually kept on the ambo and is used by the Lector who reads the readings for the Mass.

Sacramentary – this is the book of prayers that the priest celebrating Mass uses. It contains the opening prayer, prayer over the gifts, prayer after communion, solemn blessings, Eucharistic prayers and prefaces for all of the Masses, including special occasions.  It may be held by an altar server when prayers are said at the presiding priest’s chair (opening and closing prayers) or placed on the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer.


Chalice (CHAL-is) – the large cup used to hold the wine that becomes the Blood of Christ.   It is made of durable material and comes in varies shapes and sizes.

Paten (PAT-en) – a saucer-like disk that holds the bread that becomes the Body of Christ.

Ciborium (si-BORE-ee-um) – a vessel used to hold the Hosts which will be used for communion; some are cup-like and others are bowl/plate like; they are also used to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.

Corporal – A square linen cloth placed on the altar at the time of the offertory.  The body and blood of Christ is placed upon it during the consecration.

Decanter or Flagon (FLAG-un) – the bottle or pitcher-like vessel used to hold the wine which will be consecrated at Mass for the communion of the people. It is brought forth with the gifts.

Communion Cups – When the people receive Christ’s blood at communion, they drink from this chalice-like vessel. These cups are kept on the Credence Table and brought to the Altar at communion time.

Pall (PAHL) – The stiff, square, white cover placed over the paten (while it’s on the chalice) or the chalice (after it is filled).  It protects the contents of the chalice.

Pyx –  A small receptacle which often fits in a pocket, which is used by priests and Eucharistic ministers to carry consecrated hosts to the sick.  It is often used to bring Holy Communion to those Catholics in hospitals and nursing homes.

Purificator – a white cloth used to clean the chalice and other sacred vessels.


Alb – a long, white garment that can be used by all liturgical ministers; it is a reminder of the baptismal garment worn when the new Christian “puts on Christ.” It also symbolizes the purity of soul needed to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

Cincture (SINGK-sure) – a long cord used for fastening some albs at the waist; it holds the loose-fitting type of alb in place and is used to adjust it to the proper length. It is usually white, although the liturgical color of the day may be used.

Stole – a long, cloth scarf that marks the Office of the priest or deacon according to the manner in which it is worn. A priest wears it around the neck, letting it hang down in front. A deacon wears it over his left shoulder, fastening it at his right side.

Chasuble (CHAZ-uh-buhl) – the sleeveless, outer garment that when slipped over the head, hangs down from the shoulder covering the alb and stole of the priest. It worn by the main celebrant and its color varies according to the feast.

Dalmatic (dahl-MAT-ik) – a loose-fitting robe with open sides and wide sleeves worn by a deacon on solemn feasts. It takes its color from the liturgical feast as listed above.

Cassock (KASS-uhk) – a long, black garment worn by altar servers under the surplice; also worn by diocesan priests (black); monsignors (rose); bishops (violet), cardinals (red), and the Pope (white).

Surplice (SIR-plis) – Worn over the cassock, this is a wide-sleeved garment that when slipped over the head, covers the shoulders and extends down below the hips.

Cope (KOPE) – a cape-like garment, open in the front that when placed over the shoulders, hangs to the ankles. It is worn by a priest or deacon in processions at Benediction and other services.

Benediction Veil – a long, narrow shawl-like vestment used at Benediction (also called the humeral veil).

Church Furnishings

Altar – This is the focal point of the church.  It is a table, often made of wood or stone, that is set at the center of the sanctuary and has been consecrated for sacred use.  The holy sacrifice of the Mass is offered on the altar, as the gifts of bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.  A relic of a saint is often contained inside the altar.

Ambo – This looks like a podium and this is where the lector proclaims the readings for Mass.  The deacon or priest also reads the Gospel from here.

Tabernacle – the most Holy Eucharist is reserved in this sturdy, immovable, vault-like receptacle that is locked at all times. It is normally located in the sanctuary apart from the altar.

Sanctuary Lamp – a candle that remains lit in front of the tabernacle to remind us that the Eucharistic presence of Christ is reserved in the tabernacle.  It is a reminder of God’s constant presence in our midst.

Candles – two candles are lit on or near the altar during mass.  Candles can also be used in procession and/or to decorate the sanctuary area.  Candles symbolize joy and festivity and remind us of God’s presence as fire and light.

Paschal Candle – the large candle lit at the Easter Vigil, is used during the Easter Season and during baptisms and funerals.  It is a reminder of the risen Christ and our participation in the Resurrection of the Lord.

Incense – used on major feast days and for funerals, it symbolizes communication with God. The image of smoke rising to the heavens in combination with the fragrance it emits, invoke a connection with the divine.

Holy water font – receptacles that look like bowls that hold holy water and are placed at the entrance of the Church.  Worshippers entering or exiting the church dip their fingers into the holy water and make the sign of the cross as a reminder of their baptismal promises and commitment.