Sink in sacristy


When I got married, I was told I could use the sink in the sacristy prior to the wedding, but not to run the water much, since it did not drain to the municipal water system. I later heard that most - or all? Catholic churches were constructed with one special drain that went into the ground in a separate manner. This was reportedly done as a reverence for the Eucharist, since the altar materials were washed out in that sink after Masses. Was this a tradition or policy in the past? Is it official policy or custom nowadays? Obviously Mass is held at other places besides churches, so that practice can’t always be implemented. but I wonder if is still the ideal. (This was the least of the issues that came out of my wedding, but that will hold for other forums).


What you're referring to is called a sacrarium, and you're right: it's a special sink that drains directly into the ground. Sacred vessels are rinsed there first after which they can be cleaned in the normal manner. The same is used if, for example, the Eucharistic species spoils or becomes dirty such that it cannot be consumed. The host is then dissolved in water until it disappears, then the water is poured down into the sacrarium.

For Masses held in other places, the vessels can be purified at Mass in the usual manner and then brought back to the church for the initial cleaning over the sacrarium. If this isn't possible, the water used can be poured directly into the ground away from where animals do their business and is no risk of being trampled, or into a potted plant.


And, to add to porthos11's answer, it is also a general policy for churches to have sacrarium's in their sacristies if possible.

From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)

  1. The practice is to be kept of building a sacrarium in the sacristy, into which is poured the water from the purification of sacred vessels and linens (cf. no. 280).


It's a sacrarium. Most Catholic churches have one.


Yes but with respect to the OP, wasn’t there another sink? I’m a Sacristan and we have a regular sink where dishes are washed AFTER being purified and any last rinsing is done over the Sacrarium.

BTW when we wash our Purificators, we always soak them first in a bowl and then the water which may have some of the Precious Blood from the soaking is dumped directly into the ground.



we In my parish we have a normal sink what is connected to the main sewage for the priest to wash his hands but are sacrarium is on the Epistle-side on the sanctuary.

P: In nomine Patris, + et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Introibo ad altare Dei. R: Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.


A good sacristy has a sacrarium and a regular sink. How to tell the difference? A sacrarium is usually smaller and covered, often in a closet and/or with a lid. If there's no sign that says "Sacrarium," another clue is that the regular sink may have the hand-washing prayer hung above it:

Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendum omnem maculam ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire.

Give strength to my hands, O Lord, in order to cleanse every stain, so that I may be able to serve you without defilement of mind and body.


Our sacristy has both a sacrarium (which is covered when not being used) and a regular sink (and a sink in the little restroom in there as well).

Our brides however use the "flower room" which is in the back of the church so that they do not have to walk out and "up" the aisle in order to be in place to process "down" the aisle! :) They also then aren't in Father's way when he is vesting for Mass.

Our altar linens are washed by a team of volunteers who each take one month a year. We are instructed to soak the linens in plain water and then pour that water out onto the ground. I pour into my flower bed. I imagine animals do get in there, but at least my dogs don't! :eek:


Our church does not have a sacrarium sink. Before laundering the altar linens and purificators, is it okay to rinse them in a separate bowl before I take them home to launder? I did not know about this previously, as the lady who usually does this is very old and ill, and I want to do things with the utmost reverence. I have taken them home once before and laundered them as regular laundry, but after thinking about it I then washed them by themselves. Now I realize that they need proper rinsing prior to be laundered. Any advice you can give is appreciated. Do I need to confess this first breach of protocol to the priest?:confused:


We have a sacrarium in our church, but we had some major construction going on in the building for several months while the church itself was having some repair work done. We had to move Mass into the gymnasium area of the building, and the kitchen down there doesn't have a sacrarium. I help with the altar linens, and during that time period we had to take them home to wash them ourselves rather than just iron them. We were instructed to soak them in a bowl first and then pour the water outside in a flower bed or other area where people wouldn't be walking. I always laundered them separately from any other items.


When I was a young altar boy, about a million years ago the priest called it a Piscina.

Please forgive the off colour remark, but he also said a Piscina is not to be confused with a urinal.

That was years before any women were allowed in the priest's sacristy, and there would not be altar girls for years.

I was embaresed too!


[quote="andrewstx, post:11, topic:318932"]
When I was a young altar boy, about a million years ago the priest called it a Piscina.


These are technically two different things. The piscina is the basin. The sacrarium is the drain. In normal usage we Catholics refer to the entire fixture as a sacrarium.


[quote="Elizium23, post:12, topic:318932"]
These are technically two different things. The piscina is the basin. The sacrarium is the drain. In normal usage we Catholics refer to the entire fixture as a sacrarium.


Thanks Elizium. like I said it has been years (and a stroke) between age 16 then and age 58 now.

I was Catholic at the time, and the priest of course has died.


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