Material of the Host





  The valid material of the Eucharistic host is unadulterated wheat reduced to flour, diluted with natural water, and baked with fire. Some theologians have discussed the use of various flours, but if we except Paludanus, who considers as valid bread made with starch, and Cajetan, who allows bread made with any kind of grain and diluted with milk, we may say that theologians agree upon the rejection of buckwheat, barley, oats, etc.

The Artotyrites use a mixture of bread and cheese, or, after the fashion of the Barsanians, a pinch of undiluted flour. Like the Syrian Jacobites and the Nestorians, we knead our altar-bread with a paste of oil and salt. The Sabaites or Christians of St. John make their hosts out of flour, wine, and oil; the Copts and the Abyssinians consecrate with leavened bread, and the Mingrelians use all kinds of bread, their hosts being usually made of flour mixed with water and wine. All the Oriental communions, with the exception of the Armenians and Maronites, use leavened bread. Whether leavened or unleavened, bread is the element, and a large number of Greeks admit that both kinds constitute valid material for the sacrament.

In the Western Church it is the uniform practice to use unleavened bread. Properly speaking, Lutherans attach but little importance to whether the bread is leavened or not, but generally they use it unleavened. The Anglican Liturgy of 1549 prescribes the use of unleavened bread.

The Encratites, who opposed the use of all intoxicating drinks, consistently communed with water. In the fourth century the users-of water in the Communion were called "Aquarii" or "Hydroparastatae" and, under the Code of Theodosius, were liable to death for their practise. Others known as having substituted water for wine are: Tatian, a pupil of Justin Martyr; Galatia, the confessor of Alcibiades of Lyons; Pionius, the Catholic martyr of Smyrna; the Marcionites; the Ebionites; the Montanists; and the Therapeutae of Philo. Marcus, a Valentinian (circa 150), according to Irenaeiis, used cups apparently mixed with wine, but really containing water, and during long invocations made them appear purple and red.

All these irregular practices were condemned as heretical, and their continuance was checked by the Councils of the Roman Catholic Church. To learn more about other "Heresies", click here.

(Excerpted from H. Leclercq, transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company.)