A paten, also known as a diskos in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholic Churches, is a small plate used during the Mass to hold the bread that will be consecrated during the Eucharist. The paten is typically made of precious metal, such as gold or silver, and is often highly decorated. It is used during the liturgy itself, while the ...

A paten, also known as a diskos in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholic Churches, is a small plate used during the Mass to hold the bread that will be consecrated during the Eucharist. The paten is typically made of precious metal, such as gold or silver, and is often highly decorated. It is used during the liturgy itself, while the reserved sacrament is stored in the tabernacle in a ciborium. The paten is an important part of the Eucharistic celebration and is used to hold the bread that will be consecrated during the Mass. It is also used in Anglican and Lutheran churches, as well as in the United Methodist Church during the Order for the Ordination of Elders. The paten should be large enough to hold the bread that will be consecrated and distributed during the Eucharist. Patens are available for purchase online from a variety of retailers that specialize in church supplies.


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The paten church has been integral to Catholic traditions for centuries, holding significant symbolic importance during the divine liturgy. It is mentioned in the liber pontificalis as a critical element in the bishop's role in leading the Mass with piety. This sacred vessel serves as a container for the Eucharistic bread used in the divine liturgy, representing the body of Christ. It is often handled by a bishop, deacon, or other clergy during the liturgical service in honor of the saints. The metal patens are sacred vessels used by priests and deacons in the divine liturgy that play a crucial role in celebrating the Holy Eucharist.

With its historical roots dating back to early Christianity, the metal patens used in churches are practical tools and powerful symbols of faith and reverence. These sacred vessels play a significant role in the liturgy, particularly during the worship of saints. The liturgy signifies the presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and is enhanced by using sacred vessels, such as metal patens. These vessels highlight the central focus of the Catholic Mass - communion with God and the symbolic representation of Christ as the Lamb.

In this blog post, we will explore the role of liturgy during Mass and examine how it enhances spiritual connections for believers. The liturgy, including the symbolic representation of the lamb, plays a significant part in creating a meaningful and sacred experience for worshippers. Join us as we uncover the rich traditions surrounding the liturgy and this holy vessel.

Types and Designs of Communion Patens

Communion patens come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Liturgy plays an essential role in the Catholic Church during the celebration of the Eucharist. Let's explore the different types and designs of liturgical communion patens.

Various Shapes, Sizes, and Materials

Communion patens are available in various shapes to suit different preferences and practical needs during liturgy. The most common shapes include round, square, and rectangular patens. Round patens are often favored in liturgy for their traditional appeal, while square or rectangular ones provide a more contemporary look. The shape of the paten does not affect its functionality but can enhance its aesthetic appeal.

In addition to different shapes, communion patens also vary in size. Some are small enough to be held with one hand, while others are larger and may require both hands to hold correctly. The size of the paten usually depends on the number of hosts (consecrated bread) that need to be placed on it during Mass.

Communion patens can be made from various substances such as gold-plated brass, sterling silver, or even pottery. Gold-plated brass is commonly used due to its durability and elegance. Sterling silver is highly valued for its beauty but requires regular polishing to maintain its shine. Pottery patens offer a more rustic or handmade aesthetic.

Intricate Engravings and Religious Symbols

Many communion patens feature intricate engravings or religious symbols that add meaning and symbolism to their design. These engravings often depict biblical scenes or religious motifs such as crosses, angels, or the Lamb of God.

The purpose behind these engravings is twofold: they serve as a visual reminder of Christ's sacrifice during the Eucharist and create a sense of reverence among those participating in Mass. The intricate details on these patens reflect the importance placed on this sacred ritual.

Pros and Cons of Different Designs

  • Round patens: Traditional appeal, easy to handle, can accommodate a moderate number of hosts.

  • Square or rectangular patens: A contemporary look may provide more surface area for hosts, but handling may differ slightly.

  • Gold-plated brass patens: Durable and elegant, suitable for long-term use but may require regular cleaning.

  • Sterling silver patens: Beautiful and valuable, requires regular polishing to maintain shine.

  • Pottery patens: Rustic or handmade aesthetic, unique designs available, but may be more delicate.

Rules and Regulations for the Use of Patens in the Church

To ensure the proper handling and reverence of the sacred paten during Mass, some specific rules and regulations must be followed. Let's explore these guidelines in detail:

The use of a paten is mandatory during Mass when distributing Holy Communion.

The use of a paten is not optional but mandatory. The paten serves as a sacred vessel to hold the consecrated host, symbolizing the body of Christ. Its purpose is to prevent particles from falling or being lost during distribution.

  • Proper Handling: Only consecrated ministers are allowed to handle the paten. They have received specific instructions regarding its usage and understand its significance in worship.

  • Reverence: The paten should always be treated with utmost respect and care. It represents an integral part of the Eucharistic celebration, where believers receive communion to connect with their faith.

Only consecrated ministers are allowed to handle the paten.

The responsibility of handling the paten falls exclusively on those consecrated for this purpose. These individuals undergo training and instruction to ensure they properly fulfill their role during Mass.

  • Consecration: Consecration refers to a formal ceremony where individuals are set apart for sacred duties within religious contexts. This case involves individuals being ordained or designated as ministers authorized to handle and distribute Holy Communion.

  • Training and Instruction: Consecrated ministers receive guidance on how to hold and present the paten during Mass. They learn techniques that minimize any risk of dropping or mishandling it while ensuring that particles do not escape from its surface.

Proper care and reverence must be given to this sacred vessel.

The church places great importance on treating religious artifacts with care, including the paten. It is essential to handle it carefully and take appropriate measures to keep it clean and well-maintained.

  • Cleaning and Maintenance: The paten should be cleaned regularly using gentle methods that do not damage its sacred nature. It is crucial to follow the church’s instructions regarding the cleaning process.

  • Storage: When not in use, the paten should be stored in a designated area within the church, where it can be kept safely protected from damage or misuse.

  • Respectful Handling: Whenever handling the paten, individuals must do so with respect and care. This includes avoiding any unnecessary touching of its surface and ensuring that it is not dropped or mishandled.

Exploring the Origins of the Paten in Catholic Worship

The use of a plate-like object during Christian worship dates back to the early centuries. The term "paten" itself originated from Latin, meaning "plate" or "dish." Over time, its use became an essential part of Catholic liturgy.

Early Centuries: The Beginnings of the Paten

During the early centuries of Christianity, believers used various vessels and objects for sacred rituals. Among these was a plate-like object that held bread or other offerings during worship. This practice symbolized piety and reverence towards God.

The Evolution of the Term "Paten"

As Christianity spread and Latin became widely used in religious contexts, this plate-like object became known as a "paten." The term itself is derived from the Latin word "patina," which means "plate" or "dish." This linguistic evolution reflects how language adapts and changes over time.

Essential Role in Catholic Liturgy

In Catholicism, the paten plays a crucial role in celebrating Mass. It is typically made of precious metals such as gold or silver and is often adorned with intricate designs. The paten holds the Eucharistic bread during consecration, symbolizing Christ's presence among His followers.

Connection to Saints and Martyrs

The paten also holds symbolic significance beyond its practical function. Many patens feature images or engravings depicting saints or scenes from Scripture. These visual representations serve as reminders of faith and inspire worshippers to emulate their virtues.

The Living Gift: Bread and Wine

The bread on the paten represents Christ's body, while wine represents His blood. Together, they symbolize His sacrifice for humanity's salvation. During Mass, when the priest consecrates these elements, Catholics believe they truly become the body and blood of Christ.

Questions Surrounding the Fraction Rite

One aspect of the Mass that involves the paten is the Fraction Rite. This ritual occurs after the consecration, where the priest breaks a portion of the Eucharistic bread and places it in the wine chalice. This action symbolizes Christ's sacrifice and unites His body and blood.

The Paten's Purpose Well Served

The use of a paten in Catholic worship serves multiple purposes. It holds sacred elements, symbolizes Christ's presence, connects believers to saints and martyrs, and reinforces key theological concepts. Its significance within liturgical practices highlights its importance as a sacred vessel.

Significance of the Paten in the Celebration of Mass

The paten is vital in celebrating Mass, serving as a vessel to hold and present the Eucharistic bread to worshippers. This sacred object symbolizes Christ's body being offered to believers during Communion, emphasizing reverence for this sacrament.

The paten as a vessel for the Eucharistic bread

During the celebration of Mass, the paten serves as a container for holding the consecrated bread, which is believed to become the body of Christ. It acts as a sacred vessel that ensures proper handling and presentation of this essential element of worship. The paten's design typically includes a flat plate with a raised rim, allowing it to hold and carry the Eucharistic bread securely.

Symbolizing Christ's body during Communion

The presence of the paten during Communion holds deep symbolism within Catholic worship. As believers approach to receive the Eucharist, they are reminded that they are partaking in Christ's body through consuming the consecrated bread. The use of the paten underscores this belief and highlights its significance in commemorating Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

Emphasizing reverence for the sacrament

The paten serves as a visual reminder of the sanctity and reverence of receiving Holy Communion. Its presence on the altar or held by an ordained minister signifies that what is offered is not merely ordinary bread but something sacred and holy. This recognition helps foster respect and awe among worshippers during this solemn moment in Mass.

Enhancing spiritual connection between believers and God

Catholic worshippers can establish a deeper spiritual connection with God during Mass by using a designated vessel like the paten. Presenting and receiving communion on this sacred object creates a tangible link between believers' faith and their participation in receiving Christ's body. It allows individuals to express their devotion and strengthen their relationship with God through this sacrament.

Different Materials Used in Crafting Patens for Communion

The paten, an essential vessel for celebrating Holy Communion, comes in various materials that add to its symbolism and aesthetic appeal. Traditional patens are often crafted from gold, silver, brass, or pewter. However, modern designs have expanded the options by incorporating materials like glass or ceramic elements.

Traditional Materials: Gold, Silver, Brass, and Pewter

  1. Gold: Patens made of gold are highly regarded for their elegance and beauty. The use of gold symbolizes the preciousness and sacred nature of the Eucharist. It represents purity and divinity.

  2. Silver: Another popular material for crafting patens is silver. Silver patens are known for their durability and lustrous appearance. They reflect light beautifully during the Mass, adding to the reverence of the occasion.

  3. Brass: Some patens are made from brass due to its affordability and malleability. While not as luxurious as gold or silver, brass still offers a visually appealing option that serves its purpose effectively.

  4. Pewter: Patens made from pewter have a long-standing tradition within religious ceremonies. This alloy, consisting primarily of tin, is known for its strength and low melting point.

Modern Designs with Glass or Ceramic Elements

  1. Glass: In recent years, some contemporary designs have incorporated glass elements into the construction of patens. Glass adds a unique touch by providing transparency through which one can see the consecrated host.

  2. Ceramic: Similarly, ceramic has become a favored material for modern paten designs due to its shape and color options versatility. Ceramic patens can be customized to match specific liturgical themes or church decor.

Each material choice carries its symbolism that enhances the significance of Holy Communion:

  • Gold represents purity and divinity.

  • Silver reflects light beautifully during Mass.

  • Brass offers an affordable yet visually appealing option.

  • Pewter has a long-standing tradition within religious ceremonies.

  • Glass provides transparency to view the consecrated host.

  • Ceramic allows for customization and versatility.

It's important to note that regardless of the material, the primary purpose of a paten remains the same: to hold the sacred host during the Eucharistic celebration. The choice of material is often influenced by factors such as tradition, liturgical preferences, and available resources.

Symbolism Associated with the Shape and Design of Patens

The shape and design of patens hold significant symbolism in Christian worship, particularly during the distribution of the Holy Eucharist. Let's explore some key aspects of their shape and design.

The round shape represents unity within the Body of Christ

One notable feature of patens is their round shape. This circular design symbolizes unity within the Body of Christ, emphasizing that all believers participate in a shared spiritual communion. Just as there is no beginning or end to a circle, this shape signifies the eternal nature of God's love and our interconnectedness as members of His church.

The raised rim prevents any particles from falling off during the distribution.

Another critical aspect of patens is the raised rim that encircles its surface. This rim serves a practical purpose during the distribution of the Eucharistic elements. As priests or ministers place hosts onto the paten, this raised edge acts as a barrier, preventing any particles from accidentally falling off. It ensures that every particle is collected and accounted for, demonstrating reverence for the sacredness of these consecrated elements.

Some designs may feature religious symbols like Chi-Rho or the Lamb of God

In addition to their functional aspects, patens often incorporate religious symbols. Some patens may bear engravings or embossments depicting significant Christian characters such as the Chi-Rho (☧) or the Lamb of God. These symbols are reminders of Christ's sacrifice and presence during Communion.

Size variations cater to different liturgical needs

Patens come in various sizes to accommodate different liturgical practices. While some are small plates held by hand during Mass, others are larger vessels placed on altars to display multiple hosts at once. The size variation allows flexibility based on specific liturgical requirements and helps facilitate a smooth distribution process.

Materials used range from metal to gold

Patens are commonly made from brass, silver, or gold. The choice of material often reflects the significance and solemnity of the occasion. Gold patens, for instance, are often used during special liturgical celebrations due to their association with royalty and divinity.

The Enduring Role of the Paten in Catholic Liturgy

In conclusion, the paten holds a significant role in Catholic liturgy, particularly during the celebration of Mass. As explored in this blog post, there are various types and designs of communion patens, each serving its purpose in facilitating the distribution of the Eucharist. The rules and regulations surrounding their use ensure reverence and respect for this sacred vessel.

Understanding the origins and symbolism associated with patens provides a deeper appreciation for their presence on the altar. Crafted from different materials, these patens serve as practical tools and carry spiritual significance. Their shape and design further enhance the symbolism and aid in creating a respectful atmosphere during Mass.

We encourage you to delve into our related articles to learn more about other liturgical vessels or explore additional aspects of Catholic worship. Understanding these details can enrich your experience as a participant or observer in Catholic liturgy.


What is the purpose of a paten?

The purpose of a paten is to hold the bread (the host) that will be consecrated during Mass. It serves as a vessel for presenting and distributing the Eucharist to communicants.

Can any material be used to make a paten?

Traditionally, patens are made from precious metals such as gold or silver to reflect their importance in Catholic worship. However, modern variations may also use materials like brass or pewter while maintaining appropriate reverence for their purpose.

Why do some patens have intricate designs?

The intricate designs found on some patens serve both aesthetic and symbolic purposes. They often depict religious symbols or scenes that convey deeper meaning associated with the Eucharist or specific aspects of Catholic theology.

Are there specific rules regarding how patens should be handled?

Yes, there are guidelines governing the handling of patens during Mass. Generally, they should be treated with utmost respect and care, ensuring that they are clean and used correctly in the distribution of the Eucharist.

Can laypeople use patens during Mass?

In most cases, patens are reserved for ordained clergy or designated ministers. However, some churches may allow laypeople to assist with holding the paten under certain circumstances, such as during extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. I think it’s best to consult with your local parish for specific guidelines.