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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Hanging pyx


O sacred Banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory given to us.

Here is a photograph that I took at Ripon Cathedral last month. It shows the hanging pyx in the chapel to the south of the High Altar. I know that there is one in the Resurrection Chapel at Mirfield as well, but these seem to be rather rare nowadays. Does anybody know of anywhere else that uses this traditional English method of reserving the Most Blessed Sacrament? I'd be interested to see them, if you can provide a link to photographs.

11 comments:

Aristibule said...

I can't recall any English churches - but I've seen photographs of many churches in France, the Holy Land and Syria (both Catholic and Orthodox) that have the 'columba' or dove pyx hanging above the altar.

Michael said...

Thank you, Aristibule.

I've done some googling, and it appears that a church in Surrey, (S. Mary's, Dennington), also has one, as does S. John's-in-the-Village, New York:

http://www.stjvny.org/iconspyx.asp

Richard said...

All Saints', Margaret St. have one, I seem to remember (their website is http://www.allsaintsmargaretstreet.org.uk/ although I can't see one in any of the photos).

Mount S. Bernard's Abbey (a Roman Catholic monastery in Leics.) have one too.

Ian said...

Pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean by "traditional English method of reserving the Most Blessed Sacrament"? The presence of a hanging pyx, or does it have a particular shape or form?


If the former, a few Anglican churches in Sydney have them. My old church had a hanging pyx.

Michael said...

No need to ask for pardon. :-)

The hanging pyx is not unknown elsewhere, but it was the predominant method of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in mediaeval England, and, in fact, anywhere that followed the Sarum Use. (The aumbry in the north wall was a later development).

I am led to believe that many spikey Anglican churches in Australia are influenced as much by Sarum as by modern Rome or Tridentine in their adoption of Catholic practices, and this may go some way to explaining what you have seen, although it strikes me as odd in Sydney. I suppose not all of that diocese is the same. I know of one groups of friends who used to make the occasional pilgrimage to cense the perimeter of S. Andrew's Cathedral, which I found rather comical.

Ian said...

So the Blessed Sacrament is actually kept in the pyx? I'm not sure that happened in my last parish; I never thought to enquire.

And yes, although Sydney is overwhelmingly evangelical there are a few outposts of spikeyness around the place. And a hearty laugh at the procession around St Andrew's: a worthy and wondrous thing to do!

Michael said...

I know, isn't it funny? :-)

The hanging pyx doesn't take the same form as the usual standing pyx. In the picture I have on the blog, what appears to be a Cross suspended above the altar is actually the hanging pyx. This is suspended from a chain with a counter-balance so that it can easily lowerd and then raised again, much in the same way as a sanctuary light.

These pyxes come in various shapes and forms, and are not all a Cross. There is the more traditinal dove-shaped pyx, to which Aristibule made reference.

I think that these are preferable to an aumbry in the wall of the north side of the sanctuary, and infinitely preferable to a tabernacle on the altar.

Stephen said...

Michael, there is a hanging pyx in one of the chapels in Tewkesbury Abbey. Rather splendid as I seem to remember
HTH....
Interesting site you've got btw....


Stephen ( aka Royal Spaniel)

Michael said...

Wonderful to hear, Stephen. I hope things are well with you and I'm sorry for not having been in touch lately.

Thanks for your words about the blog.

Michael
(Angelus Domini, Regina Caeli, Saint Osmund, plus a whole host of others)

Stephen said...

Oh,so that's who you are!! I've been wondering what had happened to you - glad to see you're still around,although I must admit I tend to read the threads more than I post
Take care....

Terry said...

There are hanging Pyxes in Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey I saw when I visited some time ago. Canterbury's was wooden and had sunbursts and if I recall the one in Westminster was in thye chapel to the left of the main doors was spherical