) is a covered container used in Roman Catholic
, and related churches to store the consecrated hosts
of the sacrament
of Holy Communion
. A ciborium is also an architectural feature in some churches.
container in the shape of a chalice
but its bowl is more round than conical, and takes its name from its cover, surmounted by a cross or other sacred design. In the early Christian Church, Holy Communion was not kept in churches for fear of sacrilege or desecration. Later, the first ciboria were kept at homes to be handy for the Last Rites
where needed. In churches, a ciborium is usually kept in a tabernacle
. In some cases, it may be veiled (see photograph below) to indicate the presence of the consecrated hosts.
Other containers for the host include the paten (a small plate) or a basin (for loaves of bread rather than wafers) used at the time of consecration and distribution at the main service of Holy Eucharist. A pyx is a small, circular container into which a few consecrated hosts can be placed. Pyxes are typically used to bring communion to the sick or shut-in.
In ecclesiastical architecture
, a ciborium
is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary
, that covers the altar
in a basilica
or other church. Such a ciborium is also known (albeit inaccurately) as a baldachin