Are there any
requirements for the creation of a chalice to be used in the Roman Catholic Mass. Does it
have to be made of certain materials, does it have to be a certain height?
Instruction of the Roman Missal and Inaestimabile
donum both speak about the proper construction of the chalice:
From the GIRM:
290:"Vessels should be made from materials that are solid and that in the particular
region are regarded as noble. The conference of bishops will be the judge in this matter.
But preference is to be given to materials that do not break easily or become
291:"Chalices and other vessels that serve as receptacles for the blood of the
Lord are to have a cup of nonabsorbent material. The base may be of any other solid and
294:"Vessels made from metal should ordinarily be gilded on the inside if the
metal is one that rusts; gilding is not necessary if the metal is more precious than gold
and does not rust."
295:"The artist may fashion the sacred vessels in a shape that is in keeping with
the culture of each region, provided each type of vessel is suited to the intended
From Inaestimabile donum, n.
"Particular respect and care are due to the sacred vessels, both the chalice and
paten for the celebration of the Eucharist, and the ciboria for the Communion of the
faithful. The form of the vessels must be appropriate for the liturgical use for which
they are meant. The material must be noble, durable and in every case adapted to sacred
use. In this sphere judgement belongs to the Episcopal Conference of the individual
Use is not to be made of simple baskets or other receptacles meant for ordinary use
outside the sacred celebrations, nor are the sacred vessels to be of poor quality or
lacking any artistic style."
Based on these instructions, the chalice cannot be made out of glass or ceramic, two
substances that are not durable. The cup of the chalice must not be made out of wood as
this is an absorbant material or any other material which deteriorates easily. The exact
form of the chalice is up to the individual artist but it must be suited to holding the
Precious Blood. Therefore it needs a wide enough base to prevent tipping and a deep enough
cup to prevent the liquid from spilling as the chalice is moved. I would also recomend,
practicaly speaking, that the chalice should have a node in the middle of the stem to
allow for easy handling.