Proper procedure when a Host is dropped


I’m new to this board, but old school Catholic (I served Latin Mass when that’s all there was ;)). I’d like to know if there has been any change in the way a dropped Host is handled during Holy Communion.

Back in my day (sorry about that!) we used to hold the paten underneath the recipient so that if a Host dropped, we’d catch it before it hit the floor. If a Host did hit the floor, the area was cordoned off and had to be cleansed (I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember it was a big deal, which is why us altar boys made sure it didn’t happen).

Patens have gone away, but my impression is that it’s still a big deal if a Host drops to the floor. The reason I’m asking this is that at my local church, I’ve seen the Host hit the floor three times in the last few months. The first time, the recipient casually picked it off the floor and consumed it, the second and third, the priest picked it up and put it back with the other Hosts! At no time was anything done to cleanse the area where the Host fell, nor did anyone even check to see if any bits had broken off.

I know times have changed, but I can’t believe they’ve changed that much. What is your experience with this and do you think I should take this up with my parish priest?

Thanks and God Bless!

good question… this actually happened to me on Christmas Eve…

I was horrified!!! :eek:

I didn’t know what to do so I genuflected and while I was down, I picked up the host and consumed it. (hoping there was a new spiritual 3 second rule):blush:

I felt terrible but…

Our church still uses patens (and we are encouraged to take communion on our tongue rather than in our hand). When a host is dropped at our church the server stops anyone from getting close to the area and, if the priest is at another line, that line stops as well and the priest comes over and cleanses the area with his cloth as well as consumes the host. I hope this helps us to see that, as is typical, each priest takes on his own procedures, sometimes regardless of ‘the rules’. :rolleyes:

Communion Plates have not gone away, Priests just ignore the Vatican, Church law states they should be retained to reduce accidents, most Priests and Faithful just like to ignore the hierarchy though, our Priest has just reinstated the use of them at my Parish, telling everyone they WILL be used as Church Law stipulates, and the matter is not open for debate (this is due to those receiving on the hand dropping the host, and it was becoming to regular for him to ignore).

If the Host (Or Precious Blood) is dropped/spilt, the area that it dropped must be purified (with the purificator, the Priest or those giving the Precious Blood will have one to hand, and the Host is to be consumed, either by the Priest/Deacon or EMHC, whoever is closest, it is generally the Priest thoguh.

Hi to all,

It seems to me that kneeling was a great way to prevent the vast majority of these cases. Receiving on the toungue might be better than the hand for preventing accidents, but it is still akward at times since one’s mouth is above the priest’s regular hand level. I worry sometimes. When kneeling, the priest is more in charge, and can exercise a great deal of care in placing the Host directly on the person’s tongue, well back so that it would be hard to drop. In conjuction with a paten, such accidents must have been quite rare indeed. Not to mention the absence of carpets.

Why we ever changed these things still mysifies me.

God Bless,

What does this mean, though, exactly? I mean, what is actually done? Is it just a matter of wiping the floor with the purificator so that no crumbs are left (I am talking of when a Host is dropped) or is the area washed or what?

On the training, the EMHCs were instructed to quickly pick up the Host and either give it again or save it to be dealt with at the end - no mention was made of cleansing the floor. Where is this written, as a matter of interest?

Hi John,

Did the priest, deacon or minister see what had happened? Attention should have been called to someone in authority, at least a deacon if not a priest.

Sorry to hear this happened to you :(. Probably more direct instructions should be given to everyone before such things occur, so we are never left guessing about such a matter.

God Bless,

I am trying to find where it’s written officially, this is what I was told to do at the OF as an EMHC, and at the EF as a Server, that is the Host falls to the Floor to quickly get a purificator, so purify the floor, and to leave the purificator there for the Priest to deal with later. The normal thing for a Priest to do for the Host if it is dropped, is to consume it, and to purify the floor with the purificator same as the Paten (wipe so there are no crumbs or particles of the Host left on the floor). I think in the EF there is a more rigorous rite then there is in the OF, as the purificator is left on the floor over the area on which the Host fell (after the Celebrant has consumed the Host), but this isn’t the case in the OF, it’s normally dealt with at the same time as the rest of the Sacred Vessels (at the Ablutions).

The host was being handed out by a lay person and she had already turned away from me so I don’t think she was aware.

The floor was carpeted. I didn’t want to embarrass the person giving communion so I covered it up by kneeling quickly.

Thank you all for your replies! I’m gathering by the replies that this is something left at the priest’s discretion?

Well, I believe that EMHCs are trained to either pick it up and consume it themself, or hand it over to the priest to consume. Now, the Precious Blood is another story, as the area has to be protected, and care given to lifting up the Blood with a towel and later rinsing it in the sacristy sink, whose pipe runs into the earth rather than into a sewer line. In lieu of a sacristy sink, parishes use the outside landscaping to deposit the wash water.

Hi John,

I am really in sympathy with the whole “didn’t want to embarass someone” thing, since this is just the way I generally think. But a priest should have been notified.

Given how Communion is typically distributed nowadays, this problem can’t be rare, and the people need to have prior instructions as to how to handle it. I would say your reaction would be the typical one for someone who had not been prepared for this type of event.

God Bless,

Thank you Joan, you sound very considerate :slight_smile:

I hope it doesn’t happen again personally, but if it did, would you recommend that I called their attention to it?

Recommend? I insist, the area needs to be purified in case any particles fell off, remember that’s our Lord and our God people will be stepping on if that is the case!

Don’t worry it happens to every one though, no matter how hard we try not to, I thought I had spilled some of the Precious Blood (I wasn’t 100% sure) so just to make sure I notified the Priest so the area could be purified, I didn’t want to take the chance just because I wasn’t 100% sure if any had spilled.

Many years ago when I was just a child during Vatican II, my mother mentioned that if this happened the site had to be ritually purified seven times. I don’t know where she got this from but my uncle was a priest and she may have heard it from him. I’m not saying that she was correct but it would be interesting to know.

Hello Rahn,

Well, practically, the priest will direct what is done but the priest *should *see to it that such a situation is properly remedied. As you and others have noted, older liturgical books stated that the place where the Consecrated Species falls should be “purified” with water and a purificator. Even though the hosts are usually pretty well-made and there are not a lot of crumbs, if a host falls all the way to the floor, there are bound to be some particles that come off. To dissolve (or, in the case of the Precious Blood, dilute) the remnants with water is the proper way to ensure that the Lord is no longer substantially present. This is still what should be done today, although it seldom is because of whatever reason. What reason could we have for not doing this anymore? I can’t think of any good reason.

Besides, this is another reason why there should be no carpeting where Communion is distributed.

Thanks for your time.

Hi John,

Yes, I would. If you just notify the EMHC, then I would make sure (discreetly) that the person does not disregard it or take inappropriate action (just picking up the Host or some such thing), but gives proper notification to the priest.

God Bless,

Ya gotta love this! Several years ago while attending morning mass I saw the server returning to the altar after communion twirlling the paten around and around. I was aghast. I called the pastor and asked if the servers shouldn’t be better trained. He gave me no real answer that day however the next time and to this day they stopped using the paten. God Help us!

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