Today in Catholic History – The End of the Sacrament House

On 21 August 1863, the Sacred Congregation of Rites prohibited the placing of the Blessed Sacrament in what was called a Sacrament House.

For much of Catholic History there were no uniform regulations regarding the placement of the Blessed Sacrament other that the location where the Sacrament was kept be secure and visible. Some churches kept the Blessed Sacrament in the sacristy, some in receptacles above the altar, some in tabernacles on the altar and some in cabinets in walls constructed like a tower called the “Sacrament House”. Sacrament Houses were particularly popular in churches built in medieval Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium.

These towers would be close to the altar but not attached to it. Usually on the north side of the church. The Blessed Sacrament would be kept behind a door of metal lattice so that the faithful could see the reserved Sacrament at all times.

The chief reason why the Sacred Congregation of Rites came to prohibit Sacrament Houses was the desire to move to the common use of tabernacles as the proper location for the placement of the Blessed Sacrament.

Here are some examples of Sacrament Houses.

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