QUAERITUR: TLM and celiac people receiving only Precious Blood

This question came in from e-mail:

Father, I thought you might be some aid here. We had a person today at Mass unable to receive even a low gluten Host, so she needed a separate "mini chalice". Since the Mass was 1962 Father and I did not know what to do exactly in giving Communion to her. My thought was that it would be changing only the elements you need to change (she knelt at the altar rail of her own accord). So I thought you would just put Sanguis for Corpus in the prayer, make a sign of the cross over her with it, and then hand it to her (since we have neither fistula or intiction spoon).

My question is two fold. Was this even allowed (the Mass on EWTN with Fr. Wolfgang had it)? And if so, is the way I described correct?


I don’t see any problem with a separate mini-chalice.  Also, you would simply change the words from "Corpus  D.N.I.C…" to "Sanguis D.N.I.C…"

Some people might quibble with the person touching the sacred vessel with bare hands.  This is a touchy point.

I believe this to be allowed and the way it was done was correct.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. JM says:

    I’ve seen an SSPX priest give the Precious Blood from a second chalice to people with Celiac Sprue using the style of spoon used at a Ukrainian Divine Liturgy.

  2. Flambeaux says:

    I don’t know if it would be kosher in the EF, but in the Anglican Use the tradition is for the Minister of the Chalice (ordinary or extraordinary) to deliver the Precious Blood from without permitting the Communicant to touch the Chalice.

    I’d be happy to supply more information on how this works if anyone is interested.

  3. Eric says:

    I have celiac and have been given the Precious Blood in a separate chalice as described in the post a number of times at the TLM. It is an order that is authorized to celebrate the Mass and Divine Office according to the 1962 rites. I’m not wild about it personally, but if they can’t accommodate me that way I can’t receive Holy Communion (which is just awful).

    God bless.

  4. Jordanes says:

    In our parish, our oldest deacon told me that we had a parishioner with Celiac disease during the 1950s — the priest had permission to prepare a separate chalice for that parishioner. Pre-Vatican II.

  5. Maynardus says:

    1.) I am aware of this having been done in the Archdiocese of Boston well before V2 but I do not have any of the details. An elderly priest told me it was done at the first parish to which he was assigned, circa 1950, for a young girl who couldn’t eat wheat.

    2.) In Providence this is routinely done at the TLM for one or two individuals, and it is done exactly as you describe – even down to the miniature chalice. Knowing Fr. Santos I’m sure he found some “official” description of the rubrics and formula.

    I just shake my head when I hear stories about people leaving the Church because “they won’t let little Johnnie have a special rice cake”! In the new rite, Communion under both species is nearly ubiquitious in large parishes and there are obviously precedents (and licit ones) for this to be done in the old rite for pastoral reasons.

  6. Fr. B. Pedersen says:

    I have seen a specially designed fistula that looks like a pen, which is placed in the chalice, and some drops of the Precious blood are brought into this fistula, then it is used to distribute the precious blood especially in those situation at the end of life where Viaticum can not be given with the sacred host. This type of instrument would seem to me to be the best solution. There is no issue of touching a consecrated vessel, and the priest still distributes communion to the communicant.

  7. Papabile says:

    The common way of receiving from the Chalice would not involve the person touching the chalice. The Priest would drape a purificator over his left hand, and the communicant would hold the housling cloth under his chin while the chalice was tiped into his mouth.

    Also common, and permitted, would be use of the spoon or fistula.

  8. AlexB says:

    A bishop who has celebrated our TLM was presented with this circumstance, and decided to allow Holy Communion from the chalice for the individual concerned. He understood this to be an exception to the norm for the EF and said that it was really only appropriate for a bishop to make such a prudential decision.

  9. Flambeaux says:


    That is very similar to how we do it in the Anglican Use. Sadly, our altar rail lacks a housling cloth but the purificator has done excellently in its stead.

  10. Kradcliffe says:

    The pen/pipette device sounds like a workable solution. However, tipping fluid into someone’s mouth from is a very tricky thing to do. I would think it would be extra tricky at that angle. Perhaps there could be a cloth held in the hand that would make a barrier so that the communicant could at least guide the cup.

  11. We have a Dominican sister occasionally attend the TLM at the parish where I work. Each time she speaks with Father in advance about receiving from the chalice. It’s handled by an assisting priest during Communion, and it’s not a big fuss, from what I can tell. Naturally, the communicant does not touch the sacred chalice. I’m not aware of the use of the spoon as in the Eastern churches (known as a “diskos” I believe), but I have been told of a straw or tube of precious metal known as a “fistula.” I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up getting one someday.

    What has always been paramount, is the right of the faithful to receive the sacraments if properly disposed.

  12. Joshua says:

    Two questions, where would one get such a fistula and would it be preferable, when there is no communion (housling) cloth for the server to have the communion-plate underneath just in case?

  13. Ttony says:

    If she wore gloves, and the priest prepared a mini-chalice, there would be no problem. And when she went to Mass in a parish not her own she could make a spiritual communion.

  14. G says:

    “a housling cloth”

    OT, but is a housling cloth the long strip of white fabric
    that runs the entire length of the communion rail, and
    hangs down on the sanctuary side most of the Mass, but is
    flipped to the nave side just before the people’s
    communion? (Most people hold their hands up under the cloth,
    clasped in prayer, I believe.)
    I have only ever seen such a thing at St John Cantius, in
    Were they common pre-VCII? the parish in which I grew up was
    very formal, but my mother says she doesn’t remember one in

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  15. Joshua says:

    The housling cloth is also the communion cloth. It was required and should be rolled out shortly before Communion. Clergy had it held under their chins (even without a communion rail).

    The communion plate was allowed in addition, not in place, of the housling cloth in the 1920’s, against what the 1913 CE says about the communion plate being used instead. The practice of actually having it attached to the rail and flipping it probably helped to end the practice, because by doing so you can scatter particles.

  16. David O'Rourke says:

    In Anglican Churches the practice is for the communicant to touch the base of the chalice in order to guide the priest who, unless the chalice is quite full, often cannot see whether the communicant has managed to take a sip. Two difficutlies present themselves. The priest may not tip the chalice enough for the communicant to take a sip (it is really not sufficient for the sacred species to merely touch the upper lip) or the priest may tip the chalice too far causing spillage.

    I sympathise with the desire for the communicant not to touch the chalice but it is sometiems the lesser of two evils.

  17. Papabile says:

    I have seen the method of the administration of Communion by chalice for over twenty years where the communicant used the Houseling cloth, and the Priest the purificator draped over the left hand with no problem whatsoever. The Priests simply slowly tips the chalice until the communicant closes their eyes, lettering the priest know that they have received the most precious Blood.

    This is not a hard thing to do.

    Note: I have never seen the paten used in this instance. I am quite sure, however, that this is the normative way, and one can find it in pre Vatican II liturgical manuals for the administration of the sacrament to those who cannot swallow whole food.

  18. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Don’t worry. Next, we shall see some celiac alcoholic go to the human rights tribunal over Holy Communion.


  19. I agree with Fr. Z. that the mini chalice (like those used in portable Mass kits) is acceptable. I also have a question to those Catholics who suffer from Celiac Disease. What about these low gluten hosts made by nuns in Missouri?

    “The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of Clyde, Missouri, after ten years have produced a low-gluten host safe for celiacs and also approved by the Catholic Church for use at Mass. Each host is made and packaged in a dedicated wheat-free / gluten-free environment. The hosts are made separately by hand, unlike the common host which is stamped out of a long thin sheet of bread by a cutter. Therefore, each host is a slightly different size and shape. Most importantly, the finished hosts have been analyzed for gluten content. The gluten content of these hosts is reported as 0.01 %. In actuality, the gluten content is probably less than 0.01%. In an article from the Catholic Review (February 15, 2004) Dr. Alessio Fasano was quoted as declaring these hosts “perfectly safe for celiac sufferers.” For those who prefer to know the quantity of gluten present. On average, a whole host contains 37 micrograms of gluten. A quarter of a host, on average, contains 7.8 micrograms of gluten. Enclosed with each package of hosts is an insert quoting from the November 2003 News Letter of the USCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy concerning these low-gluten hosts: ”

    “The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri have developed a true low-gluten host. The total gluten content of this product is 0.01%; its contents of unleavened wheat and water and free of additives conform to the requirements of the Code of Canon Law.”

    call: 1-800-223-2772 or e-mail: altarbreads@benedictinesisters.org

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