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Items used at Mass

The items used at Mass include several different books used by the priest, lectors and parishioners. There are also many unique objects used by the priest during the Liturgy of the Eucharist as well as the vestments worn at any mass or liturgy.


Book of the Gospel - contains only the Gospel readings; used on solemn occasions and is carried by the deacon, or in his absence, the reader.

Hymnal/Missalette - contains all parts of the Mass for a specific season in the liturgical year, including instructions on when to stand, sit, or kneel.

Lectionary - contains the scripture readings for Mass.

Sacramentary - contains the opening prayer, prayer over the gifts, prayer after communion, and solemn blessings, Eucharistic prayers and prefaces for all of the Masses, including special occasions.



Chalice (CHAL-is) - the large cup used to hold the wine that becomes the Blood of Christ.

Paten (PAT-en) - a saucer-like disk that holds the bread that becomes the Body of Christ.

Ciborium (si-BORE-ee-um) - a vessel used to hold the Hosts which will be used for communion; some are cup-like and others are bowl/plate like; they are also used to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.

Decanter or Flagon (FLAG-un) - the bottle- or pitcher-like vessel used to hold the wine which will be consecrated at Mass for the communion of the people; it is brought forth with the gifts.

Communion Cups - chalice-like vessels used at communion when the people receive from the cup; they are kept on the Credence Table and brought to the Altar at communion time.

Pall (PAHL) - the stiff, square, white cover that is placed over the paten when it is on the chalice.

Purificator - a white cloth used to cleanse the chalice.



Alb - a long, white garment that can be used by all liturgical ministers; it is a reminder of the baptismal garment worn when the new Christian "puts on Christ."

Cincture (SINGK-sure) - a long cord used for fastening some albs at the waist; it holds the loose-fitting type of alb in place and is used to adjust it to the proper length; it is usually white, although the liturgical color of the day may be used.

Stole - a long, cloth scarf; according to the manner in which it is work, it is the mark of the Office of the priest or deacon. A priest wears it around the neck, letting it hang down in front. A deacon wears it over his left shoulder, fastening it at his right side.

Chasuble (CHAZ-uh-buhl) - the sleeveless outer garment, slipped over the head, hanging down from the shoulder covering the alb and stole of the priest; it is the proper Mass vestment for the main celebrant and its color varies according to the feast.

Green - worn during "Ordinary Time." Ordinary does not mean ordinary in the sense of common or normal. Ordinary means counting, as in the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Red - worn on Passion (Palm) Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, and on the Feast Days of Martyrs, including the Apostles and Evangelists.
White - worn during the Christmas and Easter seasons and celebration of Mary, the Angels, the Saints who were not martyrs, All Saints, Birth of John the Baptist, Chair of Peter, Conversion of Paul, and St. John the Evangelist.
Violet - worn during Advent and Lent
Rose - worn on the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) and the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday).

Dalmatic (dahl-MAT-ik) - a loose-fitting robe with open sides and wide sleeves worn by a deacon on more solemn feasts; it takes its color from the liturgical feast as listed above.

Cassock (KASS-uhk) - a long, black garment worn by altar servers under the surplice; also worn by diocesan priests (black); monsignors (rose); bishops (violet), cardinals (red), and the Pope (white).

Surplice (SIR-plis) - a wide-sleeved garment, slipped over the head. Covering the shoulders, and coming down below the hips; it is worn over the cassock.

Cope (KOPE) - a cape-like garment that is put over the shoulders and hangs to the ankles; it is open in the front and worn by a priest or deacon in processions at Benediction and in other services.

Benediction Veil - also called the humeral veil; a long, narrow shawl-like vestment used at Benediction.

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408