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Celebration host and common hosts

The term host ( Latin hostia 'retribution', 'sacrifice', 'sacrificial lamb', 'sacrificial animal' or 'offering') denotes in the churches of the Catholic tradition of the West, the New Apostolic Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church as well as in some Protestant churches the bread used for the Eucharist or for the Lord's Supper . In the Eastern Churches , the host (traditionally called lamb ) is made from wheat flour and water to which sourdough is added.


According to the belief of the Roman Catholic Church, the host consecrated in the change of Holy Mass is the body of Christ . In most other liturgies , in the distribution the host also served as a "body of Christ" the sacred meal, and between denominations disagreement about the nature and duration of the real presence there.


Originally it was everyday bread brought by the faithful to celebrate the Lord's Supper. The most widespread was a round bread that could be divided with a cross notch ( panis quadratus , panis decussatus ). The cross notch was soon interpreted as a Christian symbol and this decoration was called for.

The custom of using wafers made of wheat flour and water at the Eucharist has developed in the Western Church since the Carolingian period (8th / 9th centuries) and was justified with the unleavened bread (the matzo ) of the Jewish Seder , further out of concern Dishonor of the Eucharist in the use of the more easily crumbly leavened bread, from which particles could be lost during distribution . Because of the biblical parable of leaven ( Mt 13,33-35  EU ) this triggered the azymen dispute with the Byzantine church using leavened bread, which became one of the pretexts for the great oriental schism of 1054.

Gradually, the Latin Church began to bake thin wafers (from the Latin oblata "offerings") to be distributed to the faithful in order to avoid the multiple breaking of the bread. These were baked in a metal mold, the host iron . A decorative embossing was affixed to the somewhat larger hosts for the priest , preferably a representation of Christ or the Crucified and increasingly other representations, including inscriptions and transcriptions ( imago Domini cum litteris , "image of the Lord with text"). Even Francis of Assisi worried about beautiful host iron in the churches.

The baking of the hosts was subject to strict regulations. At times they were only allowed to be baked by clergymen wearing liturgical robes; the baking had to be done in silence or accompanied by the singing of psalms. The concern for compliance with church regulations has led in modern times to the fact that hosts were usually prepared in women's monasteries. The largest wafer bakery in Austria is located in the St. Gabriel Mission House in Maria Enzersdorf and has existed since 1926.

The material used to make the hosts for the celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin Church must consist of pure wheat flour in addition to water, and the bread “must be fresh and, according to the ancient custom of the Latin Church, unleavened”. Since the symbolism requires that the matter of the Eucharist is actually recognizable as food, it should be such that the priest at a parish mass can “really break the celebration host into several parts and give it to at least some believers”.


Prosphora (leavened bread according to Orthodox custom)

In the Catholic Church, the Holy of Holies is strictly distinguished from the unsecured hosts and is kept in the tabernacle , especially for communion for the sick and dying as food for the journey , but also for the silent adoration of the faithful. This form of storage is an expression of the belief in the real presence , according to which the transformed host - as the true body of Christ - is to be met with the greatest reverence. The special veneration is also expressed in the Corpus Christi procession , in which the Holy of Holies is carried in a monstrance by a priest or a deacon to outside altars.

In the Orthodox churches a strict distinction is also made between changed and unconverted hosts (prosphores). In the Russian Orthodox and some other Orthodox churches, it is the practice that before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy , the faithful can buy (order) props from which the priest cuts out a particle during the proscomedy and then places it around the "lamb". These unaltered particles are distributed to the believers after the liturgy as antidoron (blessed bread). The benedizierten Prosphoren be taken by those who have ordered them to be eaten during the week to take home.

Martin Luther differentiated, in accordance with the doctrine of the Eucharist , between consecrated and unconsecrated hosts, but rejected their use for purposes other than immediate reception. In the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church , leftover hosts are taken immediately by the pastor at the altar or in the sacristy .

In the past, unconsecrated hosts were also used as medicinal products based on the assumption that they had healing powers effective against diseases.


In the Catholic Church, hosts must contain wheat flour and thus gluten , but the gluten content can be very low.

See also


  • Panis angelorum - The bread of the angels. Cultural history of the host , Oliver Seifert (Ed.), Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2004, ISBN 978-3-7995-0134-7 .

Web links

Commons : Hostie  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Host  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. so with Gregory the Great ; Josef Andreas Jungmann : Missarum Sollemnia. A genetic explanation of the Roman mass. Second volume, 5th edition, Nova & Vetera, Bonn and Herder, Vienna-Freiburg-Basel 1962, p. 42, note 9.
  2. ^ Franz Nikolasch: bread. II. Liturgical . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 2 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1994.
  3. ^ Josef Andreas Jungmann: Missarum Sollemnia. A genetic explanation of the Roman mass. Second volume, 5th edition. Nova & Vetera, Bonn and Herder, Vienna-Freiburg-Basel 1962, p. 46f.
  4. ^ Josef Andreas Jungmann: Missarum Sollemnia. A genetic explanation of the Roman mass. Second volume, 5th edition. Nova & Vetera, Bonn and Herder, Vienna-Freiburg-Basel 1962, pp. 44f.
  5. Season for Hosts in Lower Austria from April 9, 2014, accessed on April 11, 2014
  6. General Introduction to the Roman Missal , No. 320–321
  7. hymen Saye: Holy wafers in medicin. In: Bulletin of the History of Medicine 3, 1935, pp. 165-167.
  8. Joseph Ratzinger : Circular letter to the presidents of the Bishops' Conferences on the use of bread with a low gluten content and of must as material for the Eucharist. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , July 24, 2003, accessed June 5, 2019 .