Church history


Seems to be some people in these fora that are “puffed up” with much knowledge. I wonder if any could write about how the Church administered the Eucharist throughout Her two thousand years. This being the source and summit of our faith, I thought it a good sacrament to begin with.

Because of the voluminous space required, I ask that posts be kept to just the Eucharist, the early years, the understanding of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity present in both the Body and the Blood, restrictions placed on communicants, restrictions placed on the Cup, the evolution of the substance of the bread, etc.

Thank you in advance


One quick correction. There has been no evolution in the substance of the bread. It is changed through transubstantiation from bread to the Body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, as is the wine. The substance of bread and wine no longer remain.only the accidents.
Prayers & blessings
Deacon Ed B


I would say that there are many people here who are well educated, well read and good at quickly researching topics and idea. However, I do not see many, if any, who are using your pejorative phrase, “puffed up”, that is prideful, except those very few who present incorrect histories or are not open to correction. But then, this later group is both very small here and not a credible source of information.

Deacon_Ed is correct. The Church has always believed and taught that the that Christ is fully present in the Holy Eucharist and that, once consecrated, it is no longer bread and wine.

That one sentence sums up the entire history of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.


Sorry if you misunderstood Deacon, but I’m talking about the bread. At table, in the upper room, it was bread.In the early Church, it was bread. Now, it is bread in the shape of what we call a host. That is the evolution I’m writing about.

For example, in the early Church, people would bring a loaf with them to “Mass” and return with this “bread”, now Jesus Christ, when “Mass” was over.


I’m confused by what you write, but seem to agree with what you wrote in your last sentence.

I don’t expect to hear from the latter group.

[quote=rpp]The Church has always believed and taught that the that Christ is fully present in the Holy Eucharist and that, once consecrated, it is no longer bread and wine.


As do I. However, I also realize that the bread used for the consecration has not always looked as it does in most churches today. This is the evolution I write of.


Also, at some point in time, there became a rubric for the ingredients that comprise the bread used for consecration.


In the early Church each member of the congregation or family brought a loaf with them to Mass. The bread, usually a substantial size loaf was then usually placed in a communal group near or on the altar. After the consecration Communion would take place with the Priest either handing one of the consecrated Hosts, not necessarily the same one that was brought in, to the communicant, usually the father or placed a small morsel in his mouth and handed him the rest. That person then brought the remainder to the family, where a small portion might be consumed, not always, and the rest wrapped in a piece of cloth, usually white in color, and brought home for consumption during the week.

As time went on a decision was made that the Church would supply the bread opposed to the families bringing them in. Maybe some families brought in none at all or very small ones. Maybe they were monkeying around with the required ingredients. Who can really say? There is some evidence that in at least some Churches there were definite class divisions amongst the congregations, which also could have had something to do with it. Perhaps the wealthy felt they were getting shafted by having to supply more than did the poor.

In any event the Church, possibly with an eye towards economy started making the loaves smaller and smaller, In time the Hosts became basically what they are today, small individual size portions although the practice still remained of allowing the consecrated Hosts to be brought home

Due to a distinct lack of reverence, due mainly I think to ignorance and numerous acts horrific sacriliges that were occuring, Hosts being used as good luck charms, as amulets to ward of sickness, in magic spells to bring back lovers or ensure a good crop, to curse others, private expositions at home for which admission could be charged, used in Black masses etc., the Church forbade the bringing of the Hosts home except in the case of the Last Rites and went to Communion being distributed solely on the tongue.

A simple answer but you get the picture. It is fascinating to know we still hear of those who try to do the same things. We’ve had posters on this forum ask for the best way to have a private exposition at home,and if carrying a consecrated Host near to the body is allowed, And we’ve all heard of the attempted sale of consecrated Hosts on the internet.


Excellent, thank you.


[quote=mercygate]Although I do not know exactly when the thin one-inch diameter disc came into fashion, I DO know that it is depicted in the art of the late 15th Century in Northern Europe.

My speculation would be that this form was developed around the time that the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted in the late 13th Century. It is likely that art history will tell you as much about the development of the FORM of the bread as Church documents. Church documents will tell you about the MATTER: wheat flour and water.

As a rule, you don’t get a RULE until you need a rule.

Correction. Corpus Christi was instituted in the 14th Century. The doctrine of transubstantiation was promulgated in the 13th Century. That also would be a good touch point for locating any change in the form of bread used at Mass.

I am surprised that nobody has yet mentioned that the Eastern Churches have always used leavened bread.


I had heard once that there was a devout order of nuns that did a great deal of baking…


Shucks! They still do. Many convents for centuries have generated support for the communities by baking altar bread.

When I was an Episcopalian, I flirted with a vocation to a community of Sisters who had this as one of their works. They still do to my knowledge.

So, what’s the QBQ?


sorry, I do not know what this means - question behind {the} question


Question Behind the Question.

You started out with what sounded like hostility.


I think we can see some of the development in the early chapters of the Book of Acts. Where things were shared in common. In addition, when it became necessary for the apostles to appoint helpers, among them being the first martyr, St. Stephan. There are also hints of this in some of the letters of St. Paul where he asks his readers to help the poor.

As for the recipe of the bread, there appears to be two schools of though here. One, adopted by the Western Church, used the formula specified in Exodus for the Passover bread, that is unleavened. Other Churches, mostly in the East (but I do not think all of them) believe that using leavened bread was appropriate. I do not know what these are based on. East and West, all the churches used fermented wine made only from grapes.

I am certain that all the rites and churches that are in communion with Rome all use unleavened bread. Even so, in the Latin (Roman) Rite, unleavened bread is the only permissible bread. The ingredients are specified under canon law or the GIRM (or both?). The bread must be made of use wheat flour and water. No other ingredients, such as salt, butter, sugar, etc., are permitted.

Wine can only be made from grapes. It must be fermented. No artificial ingredients are permitted, I believe. Also, I think (someone please help me here) that only certain types or grapes, or grapes harvested and/or prepared in a certain manner can be used. I vaguely recall hearing something about wine with sediments cannot be used, or something like that. But I am uncertain of the details on this. Can someone help with this, please?

Non-alcoholic Mustum, a kind of grape juice, may be substituted, with a bishop’s consent, in those cases where the priest is an alcoholic and sacramental wine represents a serious near occasion of sin for the priest.


ok - now we’re cooking - anyone gonna tackle the consecration - who and when, the rubric{if any} of the early Church and moving forward to today?


rpp flushed out the gist of it


One thing at a time. Are you looking for bread recipes?

Or are you looking at the evolution of the anaphora?


The Catholic Encyclopedia (recently put online by Catholic Answers with the help of many forum members here) has a very nice areticle on the hisotry of the anafora.


Neither, I’m hoping that by the posts, some in these fora might get a better understanding of the Church and how she operates under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, I am sure I will learn something.


See the post on the Anaphora.

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