I have recently been going to a Catholic cathedral instead of my usual church. During Communion, the altar servers have these metal plates that they hold under the Eucharist as it is administered. What is the reason?
The item in question is called a Communion-plate. Its purpose is to catch the host (or some part of it) should it be dropped.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal mentions the Communion-plate in the section concerning articles to be prepared for Mass: “The following are also to be prepared . . . the Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful” (118).
Additionally, Remptionis Sacramentum encourages its use: “The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling” (93).
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