Primary Readings on the Eucharist
A practical reason for abolishing intinctio was the fear of spillage. The presence of Christ required extreme care that not a drop should be lost. This almost scrupulous piety was also applied to the host. Around the year 800 came the first prescriptions calling for the use of unleavened bread. This type of bread, which does not produce crumbs, came into general use from the eleventh century. The introduction of seperate hosts did away with the breaking of the bread.The hosts were prepared with the utmost care: the monks of Cluny washed themselves and combed their hair beforehand and picked out the wheat grains one by one and washed them. Even the millstone was cleansed. The monks were careful that neither their saliva nor their breath came into contact with the hosts.
Once consecrated, the bread belonged in sacred vessels. In Carolinian times the custom arose of consecrating such vessels, a gesture again exclusively reserved to the priest. The first sacred formulae for this type of ritual are to be found in the Gallic sacramentaries. The Missal Francorum, for instance, contains prayers for the consecration of the paten (This was originally a large tray used for distributing the leavened bread. When unleavened bread was introduced in the 8th-9th century and small hosts became more common, the tray lost its original shape and turned into a small flat dish on which the celebrant’s host was placed), the chalice, and the chrismale, the latter called allegorically by the Missale “a new tomb for the body of Christ.”
Fr. Joseph Jungman – in his book The Mass of the Roman Rite – states that:
"In the West, various ordinances appeared from the ninth century on, all demanding the exclusive use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist. A growing solicitude for the Blessed Sacrament and a desire to employ only the best and whitest bread, along with various scriptural considerations – all favored this development.
“Still, the new custom did not come into exclusive vogue until the middle of the eleventh century. Particularly in Rome it was not universally accepted till after the general infiltration of various usages from the North” [Joseph Jungman, The Mass of the Roman Rite, volume II, pages 33-34]
Fr. Jungman goes on to say that,
“. . . the opinion put forward by J. Mabillon, Dissertatio de pane eucharistia, in his answer to the Jesuit J. Sirmond, Disquisitio de azymo, namely, that in the West it was always the practice to use only unleavened bread, is no longer tenable” [Jungman, The Mass of the Roman Rite, volume II, page 33]
Now, the fact that the West changed its practice and began using unleavened bread in the 8th and 9th century – instead of the traditional leavened bread – is confirmed by the research of Fr. William O’Shea, who noted that along with various other innovative practices from Northern Europe, the use of unleavened bread began to infiltrate into the Roman liturgy at the end of the first millennium, because as he put it,
“The Eucharistic bread has been unleavened in the Latin rite since the 8th century – that is, it is prepared simply from flour and water, without the addition of leaven or yeast. . . . in the first millennium of the Church’s history, both in East and West, the bread normally used for the Eucharist was ordinary ‘daily bread,’ that is, leavened bread, and the Eastern Church uses it still today; for the most part, they strictly forbid the use of unleavened bread. The Latin Church, by contrast, has not considered this question very important.” [Dr. Johannes H. Emminghaus, The Eucharist: Essence, Form, Celebration, page 162]