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Reserved Sacrament

The practice of keeping the bread (and sometimes the wine) consecrated at the Eucharist for the purpose of Communion, especially for the sick. Justin Martyr mentions the custom of sending a portion of the elements to those absent. Tertullian spoke of reservation on fast-days, and of the practice of home-communion. Reservation by private persons in their own homes was common at least until the late fourth century, surviving among hermits till the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. From the fourth century, however, it was normally kept in churches. The custom was liable to abuse and was prohibited by the Council of Saragossa (380) and by a fourth- century Armenian canon (apart from sick-communion). There is no trace of reservation for the purpose of adoration before the development of the doctrines of transubstantiation* and concomitance. Luther and the Reformers rejected reservation. In Anglicanism, the first Prayer Book (1549) provided for reservation for the sick. This was dropped in the second Prayer Book (1552), and the 1661 Prayer Book ordered the elements remaining after the service to be consumed. By the nineteenth century the practice among Anglicans died out largely, though the Scottish Episcopal Church retained it, and it has now been widely restored.

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