Transmissible disease and drinking from the Holy Chalice


Danger of infection from communion cups–an underestimated risk?

Zentralblatt fur Hygiene und Umweltmedizin International journal of hygiene and environmental medicine (1998)
Volume: 201, Issue: 2, Pages: 167-188

The problem of a risk of infection from the common use of chalices has been discussed controversially in literature. Opinions were mainly based on laboratory experiments and theoretical considerations. The authors examined bacterial counts and species existing under normal conditions after communion. For this purpose, contact samples were taken from the inside and outside of chalices at the rim. Staphylococci and alpha-haemolytic streptococci were found on all chalices examined. On more than 80%, there were apathogenic micrococci, nonhaemolytic streptococci, apathogenic neisseria and apathogenic corynebacteria as well as lactobacilli and bacilli. Staphylococcus aureus was found on 26.4% of chalices. Although the risk of infection for healthy persons from a commonly used chalice can be rated as low, it should not be underestimated for persons with reduced resistance and immunocompetence, or with reduced defences as a result of therapeutic measures. From the hygienic point of view, the most favourable approaches to avoid infection would be the use of individual chalices for all participants in the communion or the immersion of wafers or bread in wine or in grape juice by the priest (intinction).

I have occasionally had an upset tummy the next day after mass, but it is hard to know if it was from drinking the wine though more than likely bacteria from back wash. I do keep an open mind aware that another source could be the cause. I do only take the Blood of Jesus if I am at the front. If I was immune compromised I would not receive from a communal cup.


No. This is certainly not doctrine, nor is it any sort of Church teaching at all.

The religious teacher in this RCIA class has some strange ideas.

The transmission of disease from the cup is a physical matter. The Lord doesn’t somehow zap the germs away.

While the precautions taken by the priest or EMHC administering the cup (wiping it and turning it for each person) tend to reduce the risk of exposure (because the germs are wiped away or if not wiped away, quickly die on the cup rim), in many places they simply don’t offer the Precious Blood via communal cup during serious flu season, and the pastors will announce from the pulpit that the flu going around is why they are not offering Communion in two forms. It’s also generally understood by Catholics that if you have some disease like cold, flu, you’re coughing, sneezing, etc then you should skip receiving from the cup and just receive the consecrated host.


This is done at every mass at my parish.


No, it’s not. And the teacher should already know that many parishes stop offering the chalice during flu epidemics.


The posture of ignoring any deleterious matter on the chalice itself on the premises that the Most Holy blood of Christ will protect you against contagion is dubious. Indeed it is the real blood of Christ but always under the species of wine. Let us not forget the Holy Blood cleanses our sins but does not kill germs. Let us not forget the longer ending of Mark’s Gospel and how many people have been injured by taking it to the letter. Mark 16, 18 "they will pick up snakes, and if they drink any deadly poison it will never hurt them”


I have a challenge for this person then.

Let someone put cyanide into the chalice after consecration and then hand it to them.

I bet they die.

Saying you can’t get sick from the chalice is superstitious nonsense.


There is only one safeguard for such an assumption, and that is no should get in a queue to take the chalice. I prefer to take the chalice and put my trust in our Lord.


If and when I ever become Catholic I would not take from the chalice. I’ve noticed on EWTN Daily Mass they don’t even offer it.


No it isn’t a doctrine at all. I do not receive from the Chalice most of the time because I hate the taste of wine.


No, you can get an earthly transmitted disease from drinking to the holy cup, of course. This reality is perhaps why it is not done often frequently.

Perhaps the instructor speak of sickness in the spiritual sense?


“Apathogenic,” not a problem
" *Staphylococcus aureus was found on 26.4% of chalices," that’s a problem.
MRSA, which they apparently either didn’t test for, or included in that 26.4%? That’s a big problem.


If you have so must faith and trust, I congratulate you. But remember, it calls for supernatural faith to perform miracles - can you say to a montain “move” and make the mountain move? - If so, you could make a toast with hemlock (as Socrates did) or pat a viper’s head as if it were a puppy, and get along with it.


We know how Jesus prayed, and he still died, so faith and prayer is not a guarantee for everything. Having said that, I have witnessed a number of times how prayer heals, when doctors can’t.

My mum went into a coma and was rushed to hospital, her breathing was a horrible gurgling sound. The doctors said she had days to live and there was nothing they could do for her. We called a priest and as he prayed my mums gasping for air seemed to change, and she started to breathe more normally. About ten minutes after the priest walked out the door, mum came round and started to speak, she had no recollection of anything that happened in hospital, or that the priest had said prayers over her. We thought it might have just been a temporary reprieve, but she lived another ten years. The doctors were surprised that she had come round.


There are bigger problems than garden variety MRSA - watch out for the extended spectrum beta-lactamase organisms (ESBL), carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE)/Carbapenem Resistant Organisms (CRO).

Most likely MRSA was present just not tested for, MRSA is less frightening than CRO


That even sounds nasty.
A few years back, my summer middle school Medical Microbiology students made up a chant about MRSA. It was quite entertaining.


Kind of off topic but an informative and interesting talk:

Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae: What does this mean?


As I always tell the kids–it’s the bacterial toxins–their waste products–that getcha.


Jesus suffered and died for me; I am not going to let the thought of any germs stand between me and our Lord. I put my trust in a bigger and more awesome God.


Too Right!


FYI, Christ is entirely present in both species.

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