Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Host

Additional Links

(oblation, from hostia, victim, sacrifice), the name given in- the Romish Church to the bread or wafers used in the celebration of the Eucharist. It is unleavened, thin, flat, and of circular form, and has certain emblematic devices, as the crucifixion, the Lamb, or some words, or initials of words, having reference to the sacrifice, impressed on it. The Greek and other Oriental churches, as well as the various Protestant churches, celebrate the Eucharist by using leavened bread only differing from ordinary bread in being of a finer quality; and one of the grounds of separation from the West alleged by Michael Cerularius was the Western practice of using unleavened bread. "The Greek and Protestant controversialists allege that in the early Church ordinary or leavened bread was always used, and that our Lord himself, at the Last Supper, employed the same.

Even the learned cardinal Bona and the Jesuit Sirmond are of the same opinion; but most Roman divines, with the great Mabillon at their head, contend for the antiquity of the use of the unleavened bread, and especially for its conformity with the institution of our Lord, inasmuch as at the paschal supper, at which he took bread, and blessed, and brake it,' none other than the unleavened was admissible (Exodus 12:8; Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 23:5). (See Klee, Dogmatik, 3, 190.)" Chambers. At the Council of Florence it was left at the option of the churches to use leavened or unleavened bread. "Romanists worship the host under a false presumption that they are no longer bread and wine, but transubstantiated into the real body and blood of Christ, who is, on each occasion of the celebration of that sacrament, offered up anew as a victim (hostia) by the so-called priests.' Against this error the 31st Article of Religion is expressly directed, and also these words in the consecration prayer of the Communion Service of the Protestant Episcopal Church, By his one oblation of himself once offered,' etc., that Church pointedly declaring in both those places that the minister, so far from offering any sacrifice himself, refers' the people to the sacrifice already made by another' (Eden). After the Council of Trent had determined that, upon consecration, the bread and wine in the sacrament are changed into the Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, and that though the Savior always sits at the right hand of God in heaven, he is, notwithstanding, in many other places sacramentally present, this decision follows: "There is, therefore, no room to doubt that all the faithful in Christ are bound to venerate this most holy sacrament, and to render thereto the worship of latria, which is due to the true God, according to the constant usage of the Catholic Church. Nor is it the less to be thus adored that it was instituted by Christ the Lord."

We learn that, in conformity with this instruction, as the Missal directs, the priest, in every mass, as soon as he has consecrated the bread and wine, with bended knees adores the sacrament. He worships what is before him on the paten and in the chalice, and gives to it the supreme worship, both of mind and body, that he would pay to' Christ himself. With his head bowing towards it, and his eyes and thoughts fixed on it and directed towards it, he prays to it as to Christ: "Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, give us peace." The following is a translation from the rubric of the Missal: "Having uttered the words of consecration, the priest, immediately falling on his knees, adores the consecrated host; he rises, shows it to the people, places it on the corporale, and again adores it." When the wine is consecrated, the priest, in like manner, falling on his knees, adores it, rises, shows it to the people, puts the cup in its place, covers it over, and again adores it."

The priest, rising up after he has adored it himself, lifts it up as high as he can conveniently, and, with his eyes fixed upon it shows it, to be devoutly adored by the people; who, having notice also, by ringing the mass-bell, as soon as they see it, fall down in the humblest adoration to it, as if it were God himself. If Christ were visibly present, they could not bestow on him more acts of homage than they do on the host. They pray to it, and use the same acts of invocation as they do to Christ himself. The host is also worshipped when it is carried through the street in solemn procession, either before the pope, or when taken to some sick person, or on the feast of Corpus Christi. The person who, in great churches, conveys the sacrament to the numerous communicants, is called bajulus Dei, the porter or carrier of God. This idolatrous custom of the Church of Rome was not known till the year 1216; for it was in 1215 that transubstantiation, by the Council of Lateran, under pope Innocent III, was made an article of faith; and we also find in the Roman canon' law that it was pope Honorius who ordered, in the following year, that the priests, at a certain part of the mass service, shout elevate the host, and cause the people to prostrate themselves in worshipping it. See Augulsti, Denkwiu-digkeiten aus der christl. Archaeol. 8:275 sq.; Elliott, Delineation of Romanism, bk. 2:ch. 4:5; Brown, Expos. of the 39 Articles, p. 606, 731, n.; Neale, Introduction East. Church, 2, 516; Siegel, Christ. AIterth. 1, 30; Bingham, Christ. Antiq. 2:819; Farrar, s.v. Adoration; Schrö ckh, Kirchengesch 28, p. 73; and the articles (See AZYMITES); (See LORD'S SUPPER); (See MASS); (See TRANSUBSTANTIATION). (J.H.W.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Host'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/host.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Search for…
Enter query in the box below:
Choose a letter to browse:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z