can a person get sick through Holy Communion?

as an Eastern Christian Ive always been taught to belive that its imposible that virus etc can be passed from an infected person that recieves holy communion to another person. that Our Lord wouldnt allow people to get sick through the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood.

is there any statment by the Latin Church to back up my claim at all?

Nope. If anything, the contrary, although there are Catholics who believ teh same.

Think about it. We’ve always worked on the assumption that the Eucharist retains the physical properties of bread and wine. We know it retains the ability to make celiacs who have wheat intolerance sick if they partake of the Host, and (from personal experience) those who partake of the Blood at least somewhat ‘buzzed’ as from a sip of ordinary alcohol, if not actually drunk (no-one ever drinks enough to find out!)

If it retains these properties then why would it not retain the ability to transmit viruses? Did not Christ’s own body retain human frailties - it could suffer, get wounded, get tired, and die. Why not retain this physical fragility when in Eucharistic form? Including susceptibility to viruses?

Lily, Your post shows a good understanding of the process of transubstantiation. Surprisingly, I’ve run across many devout Catholics who do not understand what the Church teaches about this concept. I have heard what the OP stated; that the Lord wouldn’t allow viruses to be transmitted this way. That position ignores the Church teaching that the accidents of the bread and wine remain, even after the substance changes.

God Bless,

sorry id have to disagree…Christ Body and Blood bring life to those who recieve, not coruption and illness of body, .

Christ came to restore all things in him and undo the curse which was placed upon us.
when we recieve his Sacred Body and Sacred Blood we are literaly touching eden (the state mankind existed b4 couruption, death, and diease entered our world)

the only time it can cause illness of body is when one partakes unworthly. an old preist told me that Holy Communion is dangerous to both body and soul if recieved unworthly…so if we extend that logic abit futher surly those who recive worthly cannot become sick from it.

That’s not logic, though. We know that if you decide to drink gallons upon gallons of holy water, you’ll send yourself into water intoxication and possibly die. We know that if you partake of gallons of the Blood, you’ll send yourself into alcohol poisoning and possibly die. As said above, these elements retain worldly properties as well; God doesn’t tell us to ignore all worldly logic when partaking; if anything, He’s told us to keep worldly logic in mind and not test Him by flouting those principles that have been developed to keep one healthy, or partaking in unnecessarily dangerous actions.

It’s not the wine that makes you sick, it is the germs from other people’s mouths on the cup

Yes, you can get sick if someone that drinks from the chalice is contagious

well thats not the teaching of the Eastern Catholic churchs, the Eastern Orthodox churches, nor the Oriental churches…sounds to me that as an Eastern Christian (and i mean no offence to the beliefs of all latin catholics) i cannot and will not subscribe to Transubstantion…I always thought the transubstantion vs the eastern theology of Holy communion we compatible…this thread that i started has unfourutunly made it clear to me in no uncertin terms that they are not compatiable at all. for which I am rather sorry as it was not the point of this thread to contrast East and West.

The Center for Disease Control says it has been answering the question for more than 20 years. In 1998, the CDC included this statement in the American Journal of Infection Control:
For more than two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated an official position to inquirers (e.g., lay public, physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals) about the risk of infectious disease transmission from a common communion cup. Although no documented transmission of any infectious disease has ever been traced to the use of a common communion cup, a great deal of controversy surrounds this issue; the CDC still continues to receive inquiries about this topic. In this letter, the CDC strives to achieve a balance of adherence to scientific principles and respect for religious beliefs.
Within the CDC, the consensus of the National Center for Infectious Diseases and the National Center for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and Tuberculosis is that a theoretic risk of transmitting infectious diseases by using a common communion cup exists, but that the risk is so small that it is undetectable. The CDC has not been called on to investigate any episodes or outbreaks of infectious diseases that have been allegedly linked to the use of a common communion cup. However, outbreaks or clusters of infection might be difficult to detect if: (1) a high prevalence of disease (e.g., infectious mononucleosis, influenza, herpes, strep throat, common cold) exists in the community, (2) diseases with oral routes of transmission have other modes of transmission (i.e., fecal-oral, hand-to-mouth/nose, airborne), (3) the length of the incubation period for the disease is such that other opportunities for exposure cannot be ruled out unequivocally, and (4) no incidence data exist for comparison purposes (i.e., the disease is not on the reportable disease list and therefore is not under public health surveillance).
Experimental studies have shown that bacteria and viruses can contaminate a common communion cup and survive despite the alcohol content of the wine. Therefore, an ill person or asymptomatic carrier drinking from the common cup could potentially expose other members of the congregation to pathogens present in saliva. Were any diseases transmitted by this practice, they most likely would be common viral illnesses, such as the common cold. However, a recent study of 681 persons found that people who receive Communion as often as daily are not at higher risk of infection compared with persons who do not receive communion or persons who do not attend Christian church services at all.
In summary, the risk for infectious disease transmission by a common communion cup is very low, and appropriate safeguards – that is, wiping the interior and exterior rim between communicants, use of care to rotate the cloth during use, and use of a clean cloth for each service – would further diminish this risk. In addition, churches may wish to consider advising their congregations that sharing the communion cup is discouraged if a person has an active respiratory infection (i.e., cold or flu) or moist or open sores on their lips (e.g., herpes).…195628!8091!-1

As a United Kingdom health journal put simply and clearly in 1988:
No episode of disease attributable to the shared communion cup has ever been reported. Currently available data do not provide any support for suggesting that the practice of sharing a common communion cup should be abandoned because it might spread infection.…ri.&view=print

When your mind is made up ahead of time, it tends to make illogical leaps like the one you just took from epidemiology to the demise of transubstantiation. I’m not sure that there’s a point to this thread beyond you trying to argue against transubstantiation, rather than acknowledging and responding to the actual, logical elements of the answers to your initial question.

It’s not the Body and Blood of Christ that transmits the disease, but rather the germs that accumulate on the accidents of the transubstantiation process and the chalice.

God Bless,

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actually if u read my post i was never mentioned transubstantiation nor did i feel I had to…I had no idea that transubstantiation was THE issue regurding my original question until sumone else bought up transubstantiation.

I though both Eastern and Western catholics alike held the idea that one cannot pass germs on through holy communion…it was only when sumone else bought up the reasons why u can pass on germs and backed it up with transubstantiation that i startred to give it greater thought…and its now very clear…transubstantiation and Eastern Theology donnt mix.

Smom there is always a first time, and just because it hasn’t been reported doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened

I would rather not drink after other people

Hi aussie,

Thanks for sharing about this. Does the teaching that you are familiar with offer and explanation as to why someone is unable to get sick from the Eucharist?

Is it a miraculous intervention by God, in addition to the miracle of the Eucharist itself?


well im no theologian…i do however live with another Eastern Christian who kinda is studing theology…I shall ask him the details and post them 2moorw (as its 12 am here now)

all i know is what ive been taught and it not just a local belief…many Byzatine catholic websites ith Q&A’s say the same thing as do Eastern Orthdodox websites, ill find them and post them 2moorw as well.

this beliefis shared by practicly all the Eastern Churches wheither catholic or Orthodox…and im slightly suprised that the Latin Church doesnt have this belief that i assumed was pretty universal.

this is Slightly off topic but Ive been told by many a priest that after consuming a very generous amount of the Blood of Christ after the Divine liturgy that priests have been pulled over by the cops on the way home and given a breathaliser test, and whilst they should have at least had some alcohol in their body the reading came up not just blow the limt but it read they had no alcohol in their systems at all.

Sounds good. Thanks.

Great! We’ll look forward to those citations.

Thank you,

this is from the Orthodox church of America:


This question does not mean to be offensive, but the issue of the possibility of spreading disease from contact with icons and the cross during veneration, and also from the communion spoon, has come up more than once from inquirers at our mission parish. One couple did not join the church because of their concern with receiving communion from a common chalice and spoon. Another inquirer was willing to accept that the Eucharist would not spread disease, but they were concerned with venerating icons, and asked if it was absolutely necessary to venerate icons and the cross by kissing them, or would it be acceptable to bow close to them or make some other form of physical contact beside kissing.

Especially in modern times, where the spread of disease is understood better and there are diseases such as herpes and AIDS, we need to understand this concern, be able to properly explain it to people and ourselves, and understand what alternatives are acceptable.

Could you please address how we should view the possibility (or impossibility) of the spread of disease from (1) veneration of icons and (2) from the common chalice and spoon?


I hope that you will not consider my answer to be brief or glib, but there are only a few things one can say concerning these matters.

With regard to the reception of Holy Communion:

If one receives Communion in the proper manner, one would tilt one’s head back and open one’s mouth as wide as possible, thereby allowing the priest to simply drop the Body and Blood of Christ into the communicant’s mouth without ever coming into contact with the spoon.

Even when the spoon does come into contact with one’s mouth, it is highly unlikely that viruses such as AIDS would be transmitted since it has been widely reported that the AIDS virus is rendered impotent when it comes into contact with air or water; it has been widely reported that even the transmittal of AIDS through saliva is rare; the alcohol content in the wine which becomes the Blood of Christ, combined with the boiling hot water added to the chalice right before the reception of Holy Communion, kills most viruses and other germs.

**We, as Orthodox Christians, firmly believe that what is being received is the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a matter of faith that one cannot contract a disease from the Body and Blood of Christ. **

On the lighter side, the priest or, in parishes that have a deacon, the deacon consumes the remaining Eucharist after it is distributed to the faithful. There are no cases of clergy becoming infected as a result of consuming the Holy Gifts after the Liturgy.

I believe that quite a number of years ago the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese had checked all of this out with a group of doctors, all of whom drew the same general conclusions that the transmittal of disease via the chalice – especially the AIDS virus – is not possible.

With regard to the kissing of icons and the cross: I have never heard of anyone who has become ill as a result of this. Of course, there may be cases in which individuals with serious flus or other ailments may wish to refrain from doing so.

I have been a parish priest for 25 years and have never encountered these concerns, nor have I ever feared for my health as a result of receiving or consuming the Eucharist or kissing an icon or cross – and, believe me, priests come into contact with such things much more regularly than the laity. While I have heard from time to time concerns about the Eucharistic spoon, it would seem that the reception of the Eucharist directly into the mouth from the priest’s hand, which may very well come into contact with a communicant’s tongue and lips, may very well be less sanitary. The same would go for those confessions in which the faithful partake of the chalice by drinking directly from it.

Following the Eucharistic Liturgy and the consumption of the remaining Holy Gifts by the priest or deacon, the chalice, diskos, and spoon are usually cleanse with boiling hot water and carefully covered, protecting them even from the air, dust, etc.

While I would acknowledge that there are a host of viruses and diseases making the rounds in today’s world, it would seem that in times past matters were somewhat worse. The Bubonic plague and Black Death come to mind here. So are the more recent times in which TB, polio and other diseases were rampant.** If one focuses their faith on Jesus Christ, one must assume that His Body and Blood, which is the “fountain of life and immortality,” simply cannot be the cause of illness, disease, or death. **

Finally, I would ask an individual who would opt not to explore entrance into the Orthodox Church because of the Communion spoon if he or she is equally cautious about eating in public places. There have been far more reported incidents of people acquiring hepatitis, ecoli, and other diseases and conditions at restaurants, receptions, picnics, etc. than from the Eucharist. Just last week in Chicago quite a number of restaurants were shut down after rodent droppings were discovered in their kitchens – and some of these were well known, reputable establishments. Consistency would dictate that those who fear the Eucharistic spoon might also refrain from eating in any public establishments. After all, doing so implies that we put our faith in the owners, managers, and servers and their willingness to make sure that everything is sterile and virus free. Such, of course, is not always the case. [Recently there was a case in our area of 80 people who had contracted hepatitis at a wedding reception. It was subsequently discovered that one of the cooks was a carrier. Makes one wonder!]

Again, aussie melkite, it’s NOT the Body and Blood of Christ itself that transmits the disease, but the physical accidents under which that body appears and which it retains.

As for the Eucharist being proof against physical illness - since when is the Body and Blood of Christ meant to be regarded as a talisman or protection against physical illness? To say it is (which is what you’re saying when you say one can’t receive and become sick after doing so) approaches dangerously close to superstition, and would seem to make a magic charm out of the sacrament which is given for our SPIRITUAL, and not physical, wellbeing.

Did Christ cure all known cases of physical illness during His earthly ministry? No, He graciously cured some, but certainly not all. So why think that He will eliminate all possibility of physical disease in regards the Eucharist? It doesn’t compute.

As for the anecdote about the breathalyser - those particular machines are far from accurate at the best of times. As a soon-to-be-lawyer I’ve been taught that one should always, if booked, insist on a (much more accurate) blood test to back up the results - the two often differ.

and eastern christians dont have anyhtign in our theolody about “physical accidents” and “transubstation”…and frankly THANK GOD we dont…I never understood why orthdox claim transubstaion is a herasy…until now…I myself am going to have to reject outright the doctrine of transubation in order to maintin my Eastern Faith…I have and alway will belive that Eastern and Western catholics/orthdox have valid mysteries…but we dont belive the same thing about them then prehaps Eastern Catholics should return to their mother Orthodox churches…as I now intend to.

sorry about this post it really was not ment to draw to comparison to the differences between east and west…i honestly thought we belived the same thing…I disaponited to say the least as I cannot be in communion with a church that does not uphold th teaching of the Ancient church and still upheld today by Eastern Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox alike

That goes against the Catholic concept of transubstantiation. If you are a member of a Catholic Church (Eastern or Western as long as you’re in union with the Pope), the Church teaches that after the consecration, the accidents (those things visible to the senses) remain, only the substance changes into the Body and Blood of our Lord. To put it simply, you can still get drunk from drinking too much of the Precious Blood even though it no longer contains alchohol. If you analyzed the blood in a lab it would still contain all of those elements and chemicals that it did before consecration. I participated in a rather lengthy thread about this subject some time ago on these forums. If I can find it, I’ll post a link to it. It had more details, including information from the Council of Trent where much of the confusion about transubstantiation was clarified.

God Bless,

Eastern catholics arnt bound to belive in transubsation…as long we we agree that the lord is realy and truly present in the Eucharist and as long as we agree that the latin church can use its term “transubsation”…

thisis abit off topic but its the same with things like Purgotry…No Eastern Catholic is bound to belive in Purgotry the only thing we are to believe is that prayers for dead are helpful for the dead (though byzantine theology does not say HOW the prayers for the help)
eastern theology teaches that there is no-one in heaven until the last judgement (except the mother of God) and that when we die we experince a fortaste of heaven or a fortaste of hell until the last jugment this includeds the saints themselvs.

so no…as A Eastern Catholic under the Pope im not bound by Latin Theology nor by the Latin Church’s councils regurding Latin Theology (with the exception of vatican 1)

NO Eastern catholic is bound to subscribe to latin theology

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