Rome 22/11 – Day 37: Gold, Alcohol, and You

The Roman sunrise was at 6:46 and the sunset is due at 17:01.  The Ave Maria is still slated for 17:30.  It is the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost and the Feast of St. Felix, of happy memory, about whom St. Augustine wrote in his Expositions of the Psalms.

Thank you for this day, O Lord.  It is my last full day in Rome.

What to post?   People had questions about my chalice.  I had brought it back to Rome to the shop where it was made, over thirty years of wear later.

I brought my chalice with me to Rome to have it restored.  I was going to do this for my 30th anniversary but, you know, Covid and Vaxes and Masks, oh my.  I took the precious thing to the shop where it was made.

Here are a couple of photos of them working on it.

In this, the goldsmith is opening up the settings of the stones on the node do allow more light to bring out their color.

This patently is work on the paten.

A based shot.

Years ago it was determined by the Sacred Congregation for Rites that the re-gilding of a chalice required re-consecration.

I found a bishop whom I highly respect to do the honors.  I will now have the pleasure of thinking also of him when I use the chalice.  We all win!

Things laid out and ready.  I won’t show too much of the lace, because I know that it upsets some less-than-sturdy minds as being restorationizing backwardist nostalgia and therefore “YOU HATE VATICAN II!” stuff.

That’s one pretty chalice, all in all.  Fully restored it is sump’n.

After the consecration, I immediately used it for Mass for the intention of the consecrating bishop, who was so kind.

In my conversation with the goldsmith about cleaning the chalice – FATHERS! SACRISTY PEOPLE! LISTEN UP! – I was told to use only very high percentage white alcohol to clean the chalice.  Everything else will damage, “eat”, the gold.   He told me that in the shop.  I wrote a note to him to ask if anything else could be used, some sort of polish or soap and water.

His answer:

“Pulire esclusivamente con alcool puro bianco. Tutto il resto potrebbe danneggiare la doratura…  Clean exclusively with pure, white alcohol.  Anything else could damage the gilding.”

This doesn’t apply to silver, but it WOULD apply to the gilding inside the cup of a silver chalice.  It would apply to a monstrance or paten or pyx or anything else that is gilded.

So, there should be bottles of 90%+ alcohol in sacristies, and not just to make limoncello.

In the USA we have “Everclear” at 95%.  There are other brands, too.  I saw one in an Italian store the other day: 96%.   I bought it and used it to clean the chrism and smudges from the consecration. It worked like a charm.  I’ll leave this bottle with the sacristan at Ss. Trinità.  They’ll either use it for chalice or The Great Roman™ will make limoncello out of it.  Either way is a good way.

Meanwhile, I was supposed to go to see the Van Gogh exhibit in Rome at exactly the time when morons interfered.  HERE  Another one of these climate change idiocies.  They threw vegetable puree at a painting and then glued themselves to the wall while shouting slogans about carbon and climate.   The contempt I have for these nitwits is nearly complete now.   How on earth did they get that stuff in there, given what has been happening?  ANSWER: It was probably an inside job, someone on the inside letting them into the gallery with their stuff.

Here’s another kind of puzzle.

BLACK to move.  You should get this one pretty quickly.

NB: I may hold comments with puzzle solutions a little longer than others so there won’t be “spoilers” for others.

Interested in learning?  Try THIS.

Meanwhile, the mighty Robert Card. Sarah has a new book, Catechism of the Spiritual Life.


Chess and Card. Sarah.  It’s a good day.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gab says:

    ”and then glued themselves to the wall while shouting slogans about carbon and climate.”

    I wish they would just be left there! Don’t remove them! Better yet, allow people to throw vegetable puree at them – or is that uncharitable?

    And your Chalice is magnificent, Fr Z!

  2. mibethda says:

    The response of the Sacred Congregation of Rites regarding the renovation of the gold (re-gilding) of a chalice or paten was abrogated by Canon 1305 of the Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law:
    #2. A chalice and paten do not lose consecration by the consumption or renovation of the gold, there remaining, however, in the first case, the grave obligation of applying the gold again.
    (#1 does provide, however, that sacred furnishings will lose their consecration, “if they undergo such damage or change that they lose their pristine form so that they are not considered suitable any more for their use”).
    The current Code, promulgated in 1983, does not address the issue (see Canon 1171), so the provision of Canon 2 would probably apply:
    “Therefore, liturgical laws in force until now retain their force unless one of them is contrary to the canons of the Code.”
    To my knowledge, the successor to the Sacred Congregation, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (now the Dicastery…) has not issued a decree on the subject.

  3. JonPatrick says:

    Your chalice is beautiful. We should be offering the best of what we have in our worship to God. Bring on the lace!

    This climate change nonsense is all orchestrated. The people at the top who are doing the orchestrating don’t really care about the climate. After all they are the ones jetting about in private planes. It is all about more control over us peons. Take away our cars and let us m0ve around, in the words of travel writer Paul Theroux, “in a supervised Chinese way, in a brown bus”. No cars means that we all live in Soviet style concrete apartments in a crowded city. A lot easier to control that way. I’ll take off my tinfoil hat now :)

  4. The Masked Chicken says:

    “ I was told to use only very high percentage white alcohol to clean the chalice. Everything else will damage, “eat”, the gold.”

    White alcohol? Alcohols are a group of organic compounds containing an OH (hydroxyl) group. The most well-known are methanol (wood alcohol), ethanol (drinking alcohol), and iso-propyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). All of these compounds are clear. White alcohol is a sub-category of drinking alcohols containing few congeners (fermentation by-products which can impart color or tastes) and can be as high as 90% alcohol.

    I have no idea why one would want to use white alcohols to clean gold. Pure ethanol would seem to be better. It can be easily purchased in 95-96% or 100% concentration (it is very flammable and gives off vapors, so use with adequate ventilation and, possibly, gloves away from any flame or ignition sources).

    Now, why gold degrades is another story. Gold is the lowest element on the activity series, so it won’t react with water or oxygen (it won’t rust or form oxides). The activity series is a measure of the ability of one element to displace another in a single substitution reaction. Think of a couple dancing. If another guy wants to, “cut in,” usually, he taps the guy who is dancing on the shoulder. In chemical reactions, if two elements are dancing (bonded) and another element (usually a positively charged element) wants to cut in, it must be strong enough to physically shove the other guy out of the way (nature can be cruel). Gold is the wimp of metals in that almost anything can displace it and it cannot displace anything, even the hydrogen in water or the oxygen in O2. This, it cannot oxidize or rust. This is why it is safe to use gold in the human body.

    It can react with organic compounds to form a thin layer called tarnish. This, probably, has to be done in an acidic medium, so hand sweat can contribute to the tarnishing process.

    From the

    “ Gold Tarnishing
    Possible causes include: (reference)
    Perspiration (everyone’s body chemistry is different, hence this is why some are more susceptible than others); for women, the time of the month can influence their body chemistry.
    Perfume, hair or deodorant sprays,
    Tarnishing during storage (storage boxes may contain organic sulfur compounds),
    Leaching of acid/ cleaning solutions from surface microporosity from cast jewelry; this causes corrosion locally (such porosity may even trap perspiration during wear, causing local corrosion)
    Preparation of vegetables such as onions and spices (many foodstuffs contain sulfur compounds and others are also acidic).
    Another possible mechanism may be surface micro-porosity on the surface of investment (lost wax) cast items. This porosity may trap acids and other cleaning solutions, sprays, or perspiration and cause a local corrosion which ‘creeps’ over the surface of the item. The tarnish films formed are generally harmless although unsightly and may lead to a black smudging of the skin. Such films can be easily polished off by a jeweler to restore the bright gold color.”

    My guess is that ethanol, bring a slightly polar (mostly non-polar) solvent, is good for removing any organic contaminants before they have a chance to react with the gold. I am not sure that it is the only solvent that can be used, however. For instance, low concentration hydrogen peroxide should, also, work, although, being a polar compound, it may not work as well as ethanol.

    As for “eating,” the gold, gold is very hard to dissolve except by the use of halogens or sulfides. Aqua regia, a 1:3 mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloride acid will dissolve gold, as will a mixture of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide. From 911Metallurgist:

    “Gold is readily soluble in aqua regia, or in any other mixture producing nascent chlorine, among such mixtures being solutions of:

    nitrates, chlorides, and sulphates — e.g., bisulphate of soda, nitrate of soda, and common salt;
    chlorides and some sulphates—e.g., ferric sulphate;
    hydrochloric acid and potassium chlorate;
    bleaching powder and acids, or salts such as bicarbonate of soda.”

    I cannot comment on commercial gold-cleaning solutions as there are too many on the market and some might be good, but some might be a way to make a quick buck and may harm the gold.

    The Chicken

  5. Chuck4247 says:

    I notice lettering on your chalice. May I inquire as to what it says?

  6. johnwmstevens says:

    “The contempt I have for these nitwits is nearly complete now.”

    Yes. I don’t see how this action was at all helpful in advancing their cause.

    That said, I’m amazed at how charitable you can be. My first thought was not nearly so . . . printable. Something else to emulate, I think.

  7. Irish Timothy says:

    Beautiful pics and workmanship on the chalice. Thank you Father for sharing them!

  8. Re: climate change idiots. I say the next time they glue themselves somewhere, cordon them off and leave them glued. No food, no water, no bathroom.

  9. Kentucky Gent says:

    This puzzle is very difficult to me. Everyone’s tactical training is different, so sometimes what one person thinks is easy, another person can’t solve. Anyway, I finally found something that seems to work.

    1…Rh8 (leaves the black queen en pris.)
    2.Qxc4 Rg7 and it looks like maybe checkmate is unstoppable. For example,
    3.Qd4 (or Bd4) Be5+
    4.Qh4 Rxd4# checkmate. Can white block?
    2.Bg5 Qxe4+
    3.Nxe4 Bf4+! and black wins an exchange after 4…Bxd2

    What if white tries to run with the king?
    2.Kg2 Rg7+
    3.Kf3 Rh3# checkmate

    At first, I tried to make something happen with
    1…exd5 or 1…Qxe4+ 2.Nxe4 exd4. But these lines all came to naught, as far as I can see.

  10. BeautifulSavior says:

    I’ve been reading Cardinal Sarah’s book for the past three days. Food for the soul! I love him because of his simplicity, his humility and his deep love for the Lord and His Church. I keep praying that he becomes our next Pope.

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    Ooh, those are so beautiful. You’ve wanted to do that for a while, I’m glad it got done and consecrated by someone you admire.
    There is no excuse, artwork must be under glass now, away from imbeciles, until such time as level-headed people are in charge of things and penalties so severe are in place no one would do such a thing. You have to make the consequences so meaningful the potential perp will pass on the crime. People who do not care to behave as civilized people need some extra incentive to act civilized. Law should help them and provide it. Tangential but same with those who attack police officers. The penalty should be so quick and so severe they won’t even think of doing it.

  12. Chicken: White alcohol? … Pure ethanol would seem to be better.

    What the Chicken doesn’t know is that in Italy virtually all the alcohol you buy, in stores or pharmacies, has a nasty smelling pink dye that keeps people from trying to drink it. That’s why he said white. Also, the alcohol that I bought was 96% ethanol, which is what we would use to make limoncello and other post-prandials. As I understand it, ethanol is the only alcohol that humans can consume. I don’t know about chickens.

  13. mibethda says:

    High percentage, even ‘100%’, ethanol may be denatured, and thus as unfit for consumption as methanol or iso-propyl alcohol even though it is ethanol, or it may be non denatured and fit for consumption (though 100% should not be consumed straight). That which is for use in foods or beverages is non denatured. It is wise to check the label to determine not only that the alcohol is ethanol, but also that it is non denatured unless you do not intend to use it to clean the inside of the cup or rim. Many 95 and 100 % ethanols used in cleaning such things as electronic components are denatured. Non denatured ethanol, of course, carries a Federal tax.

  14. PostCatholic says:

    It is a lovely object and one that has a lot of personal meaning for you. Have you described it in detail elsewhere on your blog? I see there’s a large inscription just below the rim. I’d like to read about your chalice, and know you better through it.

  15. PostCatholic says:

    Also, so sorry you missed out on the Van Gogh. There’s so little of his work extant that a show like that is very special. I may sympathize with people who want to save the world from climactic chaos, but I wish radicals like these would better direct their energies. It’s criminal to destroy the cultural patrimony we all share. What’s the point of saving the world if it isn’t what is beautiful in it that we value?

  16. The inscription on the cup of the chalice is:



  17. Chuck4247 says:

    Thank you for the response on the inscription

  18. PostCatholic says:

    I’ll answer the test with another question: Does your paten have an inscription that reads HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM?

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