More from Aleteia

Not Prepared to Donate?

Here are 5 ways you can still help Aleteia:

  1. Pray for our team and the success of our mission
  2. Talk about Aleteia in your parish
  3. Share Aleteia content with friends and family
  4. Turn off your ad blockers when you visit
  5. Subscribe to our free newsletter and read us daily
Thank you!
Team Aleteia

Subscribe

Aleteia

What is that gold container that holds the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration?

MONSTRANCE
fotorech | CC0
Share

Most Catholics know what monstrances are ... even if they don't know the term.

Click here to launch the slideshow

A monstrance is an ornamental container used to hold and display the Blessed Sacrament while it is adored and venerated. The first monstrances date back to the Middle Ages, when the feast of Corpus Christi popularized Eucharistic processions. The need arose for a decorative container to protect the Holy Eucharist from harm as priests and monks carried it through the crowds. The word monstrance literally means “a vessel that exposes”; it comes from the same root as “demonstrate.”

The initial form of the monstrance was a closed ciborium (gold container), which was usually adorned with images depicting the Passion or other passages from the Gospels. Over time the ciborium used in the procession was elongated and included a clear section, called a lunette, containing a single Host.

Today, monstrances have evolved to be highly ornamental, as with the “sunburst” design around the display glass at its center. Aleteia’s own Phil Kosloski describes this best:

The monstrance is meant to highlight and draw attention to the king of kings, Jesus Christ, present in a real and substantial way under the appearances of bread. This is why a monstrance is typically gold and ornamented in a special way, in recognition of the divine mystery it holds and reveals.

View this gallery of photos of beautiful monstrances:

Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]
Power our Light that shines in darkness

Since our inception in 2012, Aleteia’s readership has grown rapidly worldwide. Our team is committed to a mission of providing articles that enrich, inspire and inform a Catholic life. That's why we want our articles to be freely accessible to everyone, but we need your help to do that. Quality journalism has a cost (more than selling ads on Aleteia can cover). That's why readers like YOU make a major difference by donating as little as $3 a month.