QUAERITUR: low-gluten hosts for TLMs

From a reader:

I wanted to know your opinion about low gluten hosts and the use of them at the Mass both Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass.

My girlfriend has Celiac disease and cannot receive the Blessed Sacrament under the form of the Precious Body.

This makes it difficult when she wishes to attended and learn more about the Old Mass but cannot receive Holy Communion. She is very much aware that she could pray a spiritual communion, but she still has a desire to receive Holy Communion. I have heard from some people that they do not like low gluten hosts because they are "man made" and not natural. I feel it is ok to use them so that way all can receive Holy Communion.


Regular hosts are man-made too.  There are no host bushes.

The Church has made it clear that a certain type of approved low-gluten Host may be validly and licitly consecrated. (Cf. Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, July 24, 2003, Prot. 89/78-174 98.)

If it can be validly and licitly consecrated during Holy Mass with the Novus Ordo, it may also be validly and licitly consecrated during a TLM.

You should approach the priest who celebrates the TLM and ask him to consecrate a low-gluten host when she is present.  Actually, make arrangements ahead of time.  Offer to obtain them for him, so that he does not have to do the extra footwork.  If necessary you could also ask support from the local bishop, whom I am sure will give you a sympathetic hearing.

The same would apply to the sort of wine used for Holy Mass: mustum could be used by priests who have a problem with alcohol.

I stress that the hosts and mustum must be made by approved sources.   I don’t happen to know off the top of my head what those sources are, but I am sure that readers can chime in with concrete information.   Any good church goods store would know.  Try Leaflet Missal in St. Paul.  They have a great guy in church goods.

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  1. brjeromeleo says:

    The Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde , Missouri, make low gluten hosts. Google for their site, click on altar breads, then Low gluten.

  2. Ferde Rombola says:

    A woman in our parish has a similar problem. There is a bag of low gluten hosts in the sacristy. When she attends Mass she goes to the sacristy to let the priest know she is there, he puts a low gluten host on the paten, consecrates it and distributes it to her. What’s the problem?

  3. Vincenzo says:

    “The Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde , Missouri, make low gluten hosts. Google for their site, click on altar breads, then Low gluten.”


    Scroll down to “Low Gluten Breads” to order.

  4. TravelerWithChrist says:

    The bread and wine become the body and blood. Is it of concern that there remains bread and wine? There would also be concern for recovering alcoholics who can’t have alcohol. Do those with wheat or alcohol issues really have reactions to the eucharist? If so, why? This I haven’t been able to wrap my arms around…

    Recently I read or heard that there are actually 2 miracles that take place – the first is that the bread and wine become the body and blood, the 2nd miracle is that they then return to the appearance of bread and wine; thus when the occurance of the host appearing like the heart of Jesus is when the 2nd miracle didn’t take place.

  5. RichR says:


    Although the substance of the bread and wine are changed, the accidents remain. The accidents are the molecular properties of bread and wine. So, they taste like bread and wine, they look like bread and wine, and if you were to break them down to their molecular elements, it would still be the wheat and grape proteins. So, given this fact, it is entirely understandable that the human body would react the same way to a consecrated host as it would an unconsecrated host.

  6. Elly says:

    For people who can’t consume any gluten, is it possible for them to receive the Precious Blood in a Traditional Mass?


  7. Andrew_81 says:

    At the SSPX Chapel where I attend Mass, there is one older gentleman who cannot receive the host because of some allergy or disease. Instead he provided the priest with a small, simple chalice with miniature pall and a golden spoon. When he comes to Mass he lets the sacristan know he’s at the Mass and the sacristan places a small amount of wine and water in the small chalice, and places it on the altar (just as he would with a ciborium). It is consecrated with the wine at the Mass and at the end of the communion, the man comes up and the priest takes the small chalice to him, and places a small amount of the Precious Blood in his mouth with the spoon, consuming the rest before the ablutions.

    This also is a perfectly legitimate way of providing for those unable to receive the host because of the gluten, especially for those with such a severe disease that any gluten causes problems. It has an added advantage as well, since it becomes impossible to make some mistake and give the wrong host or for the low-gluten host to pick up any particles from the priest’s host. The other advantage is that most churches will have a second chalice which could be used this way in a pinch, when the communicant isn’t at his normal parish.

    So, low gluten hosts, even though they are permitted, are not the only options, and while, even in the traditional form, Communion was received only under one species, if a just reason exists, it seems reasonable to offer the Precious Blood to those who cannot receive the host.

  8. JohnMa says:

    Last year I was at St. Boniface in Pittsburgh for First Communion. Fr. explained during the homily that one girl could not consume any gluten whatsoever. Thus, he consecrated a very small chalice. She was the first one to go up to the prie dieu and received from the small chalice. Fr. then went back up and got the hots to distribute to the rest of the congregation.

  9. YadaYada says:

    I have often seen low-gluten altar breads provided in a small pyx, which will then be placed on the corporal and picked up, purified, after Mass.

    I’ve also seen this avoided altogether by having a small chalice of wine and water on the corporal with the other chalice. In this way, no particle of the full-gluten altar bread would have been dropped into it.

    All of that seems appropriate. However, I met one priest recently who was profoundly sad that there were any such rules.

  10. Geremia says:

    The solution where I go, an EF mass, is to make people allergic to gluten come at the end of the communion line and receive Christ from Fr.’s chalice under the species of wine instead.

  11. Geremia says:

    Re: Comment by Elly — 7 July 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    For people who can’t consume any gluten, is it possible for them to receive the Precious Blood in a Traditional Mass?

    Yes, it happens at the Extraordinary Form mass I attend.

  12. Mike says:

    I hope this doesn’t sound insensitive but here goes:

    Our new pastor now has an (Extraordinary)Eucharistic minister with a low-gluten host at every Mass; one more lay person up there with Father, a small army of laity in the sanctuary…(not a total exaggeration–sometimes with only 40 or so communicants, we have 6 or 7 lay ministers up there…I am sure the problem is real, but it sometimes seems like we’re trying to accomodate every possible issue at EVERY Mass…ps…I have only seen a few times people go for the low-gluten host.

  13. TrueLiturgy says:

    Lots of people seeem to be saying to place a small chalice with wine and water. However I am fairly certain that only the Priest’s chalice must have water in it. Someone please correct me if I am wrong or provide the source if I’m correct :-)

  14. dcs says:

    The solution where I go, an EF mass, is to make people allergic to gluten come at the end of the communion line and receive Christ from Fr.’s chalice under the species of wine instead.

    The only issue with this laudable practice is that some people can’t even receive the Precious Blood from Fr.’s chalice since a fragment of the Host was placed in it at the Fraction. Some celiacs require a separate chalice.

  15. At The Oratory in Toronto and the FORMER FSSP Apostolate here (yes, still upset about that one, particularly since it is good enough for Dayton!), the priests have a small chalice for the wine which is consecrated on the Altar in both the OF and EF for two people in particular who have this condition. They simply advise the priest of their presence before Mass and the Sacristan does the rest…no problem

  16. Andrew_81 says:

    In addition to the issue of gluten from the commixito with receiving from the priest’s chalice, by the Communion of the faithful, the priest has already received from this chalice and for him to reserve some amount in this chalice complicates things even more.

    It is far easier to consecrate a small chalice for this purpose (and addresses the commixito). The use of a small gold-plated spoon for dispensing the Precious Blood also helps keep things both sanitary and removes the need for each communicant to hold the chalice to receive. This is they typical way that many of my Eastern Catholic side of the family receives (intinction by spoon which is poured onto the tongue).

    As above, while I have no problem with low-gluten hosts, it seems that the extra chalice (for those in need) is a much more practical solution.

  17. Edward C. says:

    A friend of mine suffers from the same disease. She often takes with her to daily Mass a small (*very* small) chalice and places it where the priest can see it. She then receives communion last. I saw her last week at a low Mass Sunday EF. Same scenario, but that I do not know whether the priest offered her the Sacred Blood from her little chalice or perhaps his own. Either way, she speaks with the priests ahead of time, and gluten-free hosts or not, she is able to receive.

  18. Jordanes says:

    A deacon in our parish has informed me that a parishioner back in the 1950s had a serious allergy to gluten, and the way they accommodated him was for the priest to offer the Chalice to him at Communion time. I have been given to understand that this departure from liturgical law was all properly indulted for this special case, even before Vatican II, and I’m pretty sure the arrangement involved a smaller, additional chalice as described above. The deacon said that people unaware of the circumstances would wonder what was going on that a sole layman was receiving the Precious Blood while everyone else was receiving the Host.

  19. gambletrainman says:

    Funny how an incident will coincidentally come up. Yesterday, I had a doctor’s appointment, and, in the course of the visit, I made a remark about a friend of mine who says she’s gluten sensitive, yet goes to Communion every week. I was under the impression that even receiving a small wafer would kill her. The doctor explained that there is gluten sensitivity, and gluten allergy. With a gluten allergy, she would go into (some kind of) shock, and would die. But if she’s gluten sensitive, a small amount wouldn’t hurt her. Never knew that before.

  20. Fr Martin Fox says:

    True Liturgy said: “I am fairly certain that only the Priest’s chalice must have water in it.”

    You are correct. However, it’s pretty common for water to be added to as many chalices as may have wine in them, if not added prior to pouring in the chalices.

  21. Fr Martin Fox says:

    FYI, one of the issues with the Celiac disease is that some are so sensitive to gluten, that even small particles cause problems; in any case, they cause anxiety.

    Thus the problem of receiving the Precious Blood from the chalice when a particle of the Host has been added.

    When I had a parishioner with this difficulty, I couldn’t the low-gluten host with others–or even touch it, as my fingers had touched the regular hosts. So I had a pyx, which I carefully overturned into her hand. She was a special case, as she was also an alcoholic.

  22. dcs says:

    She was a special case, as she was also an alcoholic.

    Would not mustum also work in this case? If I’m not mistaken, a priest needs special permission to use mustum in the chalice. Is the same true for laypeople?

  23. Jerry says:

    “With a gluten allergy, she would go into (some kind of) shock, and would die”

    The same is true for some individuals with allergies to other substances such as peanuts and latex. I recall reading of a person who had an anaphylactic reaction after briefly kissing someone who had eaten a peanut butter cookie shortly before.

  24. robtbrown says:

    The Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde , Missouri, make low gluten hosts. Google for their site, click on altar breads, then Low gluten.
    Comment by brjeromeleo

    They also have a beautiful chapel.

  25. Dr. Eric says:

    In my dealings with persons who are involved in “alternative medicine,” it came to pass that someone said that The Church for centuries had been killing people with celiac disease as low gluten hosts were a fairly recent invention. And people wonder why I have GERD…

  26. Andrew says:

    Is this for real? People can’t have a minute piece of bread? It will kill them? How do you find out that you have such a condition and not die? And that you’re an alcoholic and can’t have a little sip of wine? What kind of a teaching is that? (I know, I know: hang me!)

  27. Andrew, it is real. Celiacs will not die if they have wheat gluten, but it does cause them a lot of… problems. Use your google on “Celiac symptoms” and learn more.

    The way I’ve seen this handled is as follows: the family brings a pyx to Mass with an unconsecrated low-gluten host in it from their home supply. Dad places it on the credence table before Mass. The servers bring it to the priest when they preparing the altar for the consecration. The family sits up front and is among the first to receive Holy Communion; the daughter with Celiac disease receives her prescribed host, and an altar boy returns the empty pyx to the altar. There it awaits Father to attend to the vessels after communion. When clearing the altar after ablutions, the servers return the pyx to the credence table, where Dad picks it up on his way out after Mass.

    This system is smooth for all involved and gives very little burden to the priest, family or congregation.

  28. Fr Martin Fox says:


    As I am neither Celiac nor alcoholic, nor do I find unpleasant–as some do–the taste of wine or the bread used in the Mass, then I have none of this clouding or interfering with my communion with the Lord. But for those who have these difficulties–particularly the grave problems of allergy or addiction–I can well imagine it is a difficult cross to bear; especially when others do not know what it is like.

    The woman I described was so happy; she had not received communion for years, because she didn’t know about low-gluten hosts until I was able to procure some.

    Imagine what it might be like to have the choir singing, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” or hearing the Lord speak, in the Gospel, of eating his flesh and drinking his blood in order to have life–and then be unable to because of these difficulties?

    It is true that many with Celiac disease can take a small amount; this includes the Archbishop of Cincinnati. But that is not true of all, or so I am told. I am not in a position to question that.

    And as far as alcoholics…considering the terrible pain that comes to so many when someone is an active alcoholic, and the struggles many go through to stay sober, and realizing that they, themselves, have learned very painfully that, yes, even sip can set them off…

    One can only admire those who persevere in sobriety, and one hardly says to them, “what, you can’t take a little sip?” If they could, surely they would!

  29. Ringmistress says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thank you for posting this. I’m investigating gluten as a possible cause of health problems in my family and this was near the top of my major concerns.

    Hopefully this isn’t too pedantic, but I wanted to clarify that true Celiac disease is not an allergy. It is an auto-immune disorder. Thus like other auto-immune disorders, you don’t die from it, you die or suffer from what it makes you more susceptible to. In the case of celiac, its a whole range of things from severe malnutrition to thyroid and other auto-immune disorders and numerous complications. Some folks with celiac and other forms of gluten intolerance can have a bit of gluten and be OK, but for some even the infinitessimal amount in a fraction of a communion wafer is enough to set them off and not allow for full recovery to health.

    I imagine that in the days before microscopes and the like, there were people who did suffer from gluten intolerance, up to and including from Communion. They were called people with a “weak constitution”. But also, while the genetic predisposition to celiac is remarkable common (an estimated 1 in 133 in the US), a lot who carry it are not symptomatic. Adult onset of celiac symptoms seem to be set off by stress and trauma, and there is strong evidence that the pace of modern life creates more of this. Also, wheat and other glutenous grains have been bread for higher gluten contents for the last several hundred years, due to the qualities gluten lends to bread and pastry baking. So there’s a greater chance of overexposure now, a better ability to diagnose what the cause of chronic illness may be, and also methods of preparing grains that make them less digestible by all people.

    I am grateful that the Church in Her wisdom has seen a way to allow for those for whom the accidents of bread an wine are toxic to their bodies to partake of Communion in a valid way.

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