Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who “pyx” the right answer?

Yesterday, we challenged our readers to find the tabernacle on this altar at a Byzantine Rite parish church. We were met with a record-breaking onslaught of two guesses from one individual, and the second guess was the correct one. As to the first guess, the table to the side is for the "proskomedia" (from the Greek word for "offering"), or preparation of the Holy Gifts, which occurs immediately before the public portion of the Divine Liturgy. The dove suspended over the altar has a opening in its belly, in which is contained a smaller container for the Blessed Sacrament.

The dove itself is known as a "pyx" (from the Greek word for "box"). In the Roman church, we use that term to identify the little receptacle that looks like a pocket watch, which is used by the priest to carry the Sacred Host on sick calls. But in the early church, especially in the East, such a container as seen here was common in churches for reservation of the Eucharist. They were also found in southern France and in Spain, where they were known by the Latin "peristerium" (shown here at left). But they never caught on in Italy, which is probably why they were never adopted as the Roman Rite became the standard for the Western church.

We're just a wacky, walking wikipedia here at mwbh. Congratulations to "Nod" for getting it right, eventually. Now then, I don't see Mark Shea giving out cash prizes, so why should I?

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