Disposing of Altar Linens


Could those of you who have disposed of worn purificators, corporals, and irreparably damaged altar cloths by burning please post about the theory and practice–especially the practical points!–of how disposal by burning is best carried out?

By practice, I mean whether fuels or accelerants can be used, if so which ones work the best, how to prepare the linens for burning–folded, wadded up, cutting into strips or whatever people might do, especially with the larger pieces–whether washed first or not, what kind of set-up can be used to contain the fire and the ashes, what to do with the ashes afterwards, whether there is any prayer or liturgical ritual involved, and so on. I’m assuming that the linens ought to be rinsed in the sacrarium or other suitable place first (as before laundering) if they might have any physical remnants of the Blessed Sacrament adhering to them, and of course that they ought to be utterly dry before trying to burn them, but I’d just like whatever guidance and experience you might want to share.

Thank you!


I helped a monastery do just this a few years back.

We burned the used linens in a BBQ grill. Just waded them up kind of loose so there was plenty of air…gave them a douse of lighter fluid and a match…thats about it.


I realize that this is not like cremating someone’s body, but does it matter what happens to the ashes?

Also, I have some old woven palms around here, really more than we need to have, because of course there are more coming in every year. Can those be burnt right along with the linens?


We burn ours separately. The palm ash is collected for next year's Ash Wednesday. The linen ash is thrown in the compost bin.


The ashes should be buried or scattered on the ground in a place where no one is likely to walk.


In my parish we have a tall fire pit what we only use for burning palms and burning any other religious article what is more dignified than a BBQ


Well, a monastic BBQ is another thing. It’s a BBQ dedicated to God, kind of like the monks themselves. So yes, I might use a container dedicated to the task, since our BBQ is a secular BBQ. (I don’t think our parish has a dedicated fire pit, but I can ask.)


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