It is usually held in the afternoon or evening, sometimes at the conclusion of Vespers, Compline or the Stations of the Cross, and consists in the singing of certain hymns and canticles, more particularly the 0 salutaris hostia and the Tantum ergo, before the host, which is exposed on the altar in a monstrance and surrounded by not less than ten lighted candles.
At the conclusion the priest, his shoulders wrapped in the humeral veil, takes the monstrance and with it makes the sign of the cross over the kneeling congregation, whence the name Benediction.
MONSTRANCE (through the French from Lat.
The monstrance was formerly used of a reliquary, exposing the sacred object to view.
At a later date, apparently early in the 14th century, began the practice of carrying the Eucharist in procession in a monstrance; and at a still later period, apparently after the middle of the r6th century, the practice of Benediction with the reserved sacrament, and that of the " forty hours' exposition," were introduced in the churches of the Roman communion.
In the treasury of the cathedral is a magnificent silver monstrance dating from 1553, and an octagonal bowl, the Sacro Catino, brought from Caesarea in 1101, which corresponds to the descriptions given of the Holy Grail, and was long regarded as an emerald of matchless value, but was found when broken at Paris, whither it had been carried by Napoleon I., to be only a remarkable piece of ancient glass.
- Monstrance of Copper Gilt; Italian work of the 15th century.