Medieval Masses

Looking at some of the East Anglian Seven Sacrament fonts (ND January 2011) gives insight into the Eucharist at the parish level in the late Middle Ages.

The Mass scene normally centres on the Elevation of the Host, but at Great Glemham, the priest, wearing an alb with a crossed stole, gives communion to a kneeling donor holding a houselling cloth in front of her to catch any fragments.

The server on the right rings a small hand-bell at the Elevation at Badingham, where the altar has two candles and a reredos, over which two of the congregation peer – viewing the Elevation was a crucial element of medieval Eucharistic devotion.

One of the defaced servers in the side view of the Elevation at Salle raises an Elevation torch. This is clearer in the scene at Great Witchingham, where much of the medieval colour remains, the same greens and reds used on medieval rood screens. The Witchingham altar unusually has a large baldacchino, and you can also see a chalice on the altar. At Burgh-next -Aylsham, two clerics in alb and amice raise the priest’s chasuble at the Elevation, and there is a missal on the altar.

How many of these things can you spot in your parish Mass today?

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