Canon 938 and Perpetual Adoration Chapels


Can. 938. The Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved habitually in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory. The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is to be situated in some part of the church or oratory which is distinguished, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.

My parish is building a Perpetual Adoration chapel that will be separate from the actual church building but still connected via an atrium.

Would it be a violation of Canon 938 to have the Eucharist reserved in both the main church and the perpetual Adoration chapel?




A church near me is facing a similar question.

For years now the Blessed Sacrament has solely been reserved in a Perpetual Adoration chapel just off the main church. In the upcoming building work, the tabernacle is going to be moved back to the centre of the sanctuary in the main church. As far as I know, the priests are seeking permission for the Blessed Sacrament to be reserved in two places so as to better facilitate the continued practice of Perpetual Adoration in the parish.


I would say about half the Perpetual Adoration chapels I attend are within a larger church complex (like a chapel separate from the main church which has its own tabernacle, but the chapel is in the same building down the hall). So if this is really a canon law issue then there are lots of churches that would have an issue.


No Canon lawyer, but highly opinionated guy here.
In my old parish they used this as a way of getting the Tabernacle out of the church. They cut open a new entry door to outside, used only for the adoration chapel. It could be reached from the church proper but only by going through (opening) 3 different doors, and 2 corridors, by someone who happened to know it was there, and exactly where.

This was preceeded by a series of parish teaching of how each celebration of Mass was a unique gathering, and how the current congregation shouldn’t be distracted by presence of hosts consecrated at, some hinted consecrated BY, other congregations.


Canon 938 or not, the construction almost certainly has been examined and approved by the local Ordinary. It is a connected structure, is it not?


That wouldn’t happen, at least with the current pastor, who still has a few years on his term.



Additionally, I don’t mean to play ‘liturgy police’ here. I’m just curious as to how this canon effects the ever-growing trend of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.


I don’t doubt what you are saying, but I have never seen it used this way. All of the buildings I’ve been in basically have two tabernacles - one in the Church and one in the chapel.


The Canon probably envisioned traditional church structure, little more than worship space and sacristy. Modern buildings, with classrooms, soup kitchens, clinics, and other family facilities totally separate from the main worship down the hall, with several activities simultaneous with Mass going on, we’re not considered.


Here’s the blueprint if it will help


One nearby church has a chapel, they view the same Tabernacle in the wall they share with the church. I believe they suspended adoration when the Mass is going on. When Mass is not going on, one of course could “make a visit” in the church as well as the chapel.


Hope I’m not taking thread too far, but I’m on a roll. If Canon law guy happens to show up, his usual consultant fee will be forthcoming.

I guess the intent of the Canon was to keep the congregation united in attention during Mass. Is there any Canon regards Confession during Mass? I know this once was done, and rarely happens today.


i see Confession during Mass still happening during the local TLM.

I wonder if it’s one of those things like saying the rosary that was considered okay back in the days when people were just expected to engage in some devotional practice while the priest said the Mass, often inaudibly or in language that people could not understand, but is now considered a distraction from everybody participating in the OF Mass.

Of course nowadays, good luck finding a second priest to be hearing the confession while the first priest is saying the Mass at most parishes.


I don’t think the norm for reserving the Eucharist applies to exposition of the Eucharist.
Can. 941 §1. In churches or oratories where it is permitted to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist, there can be expositions with the pyx or the monstrance; the norms prescribed in the liturgical books are to be observed.

§2. Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament is not to be held in the same area of the church or oratory during the celebration of Mass.

If there is going to be perpetual adoration, that cannot be in the main church, because Mass is celebrated in the main church. In my experience, though, there is usually no tabernacle in use a perpetual adoration chapel. Either the Eucharist is there and exposed in a monstrance or the Eucharist is not there at all. I have always assumed the tabernacle is only there for the emergency situation in which someone was forced to leave the chapel for reasons beyond their control and had no one else there to continue in attendance.

It is allowed to have a tabernacle in another chapel, with permission of the bishop. All perpetual adoration chapels are established with permission of the bishop, so there would not be a problem:
Can. 934 §1. The Most Holy Eucharist:
1/ must be reserved in the cathedral church or its equivalent, in every parish church, and in a church or oratory connected to the house of a religious institute or society of apostolic life;
2/ can be reserved in the chapel of the bishop and, with the permission of the local ordinary, in other churches, oratories, and chapels.
§2. In sacred places where the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved, there must always be someone responsible for it and, insofar as possible, a priest is to celebrate Mass there at least twice a month.

I would not think an adoration chapel in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration but normally not reserved in a tabernacle would need to be a place where Mass is celebrated twice a month, provided it is on the same campus as a church that celebrates Mass on a regular basis.


Let us hope that such chapels are rising like the sun, and that Cannon 938 is secondary! However, the Church, due to increasing desecration, is exerting more control over where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.

Example: At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance there is a chapel which I believe had a Tabernacle and a hanging candle holder. I don’t know what came to pass, but the Seattle Archdiocese no longer reserves the Blessed Sacrament there.

There are many of all faith and no faith there, and someone may have violated the Tabernacle - I simply don’t know. Might have been complaints - you know über correct Seattle… :frowning_face:


Our church has an adoration chapel in the main church building …it holds the consecrated host in a monstrance…the tabernacle is also in the chapel…there is no tabernacle in the main church and it is not visible…is that ok??


So, is there more than one Tabernacle? If only one, it seems that Father would process from the Tabernacle to the chapel, correct? Perfectly fine. If two tabernacles, that might require a dispensation from this canon.

One way to find out…


I would think if the adoration chapel and it’s Tabernacle we’re located in such a way that people coming into the main church were aware of it, it might be ok.

What is permissible is not necessarily prudent. Even if a chapel is prominent enough to the people coming into church, you might get away with not having the Tabernacle in the Church, per that Canon. But in an age when the Real Presence is horribly deemphasizes, why go for mimimum?


I believe it’s still licit, but up to the pastor

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit