The Armchair Liturgist: Folding Purificators

armchair1.jpgI had a nice chat with the parishioner who oversees purificator laundering. Lots of history for me to learn, plus discussions on procedures and such. At what point do we retire “holey” linens, I was asked. A few purificators have frayed at the creases, and one has an opening fitting for a thumb.

I was informed that linen is considered a “green” choice as a fabric. We have a sort of mix-n-match here at the new parish. My coordinator suspects a few purificators are artificial fabric in part, as they stick to her iron. She returns these pieces to the very rear of the linen drawer.

Anyway, the purple armchair question is this:

Are purificators meant to be used in the folded position? At daily Mass today, we had a visiting priest and he ministered the Cup. I was about three-fourths of the way through the Communion line and I noticed his purificator was still folded.

Does everybody fold in thirds, then halfway? Liam, or others: why is this?

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Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Folding Purificators

  1. Liam says:

    3×3 is the traditional folding:

    Anyway, of course there’s lots of symbolism in 3. Also 2 (2 natures of Christ), et cet.

    As a practical matter, folding linens was designed, IIRC, so that when were folded back after use, there would be less risk of having fragments of the host falling out, et cet. Folding 3×3 tends to maximize the envelope effect. (Hey, our own regular table linens are subject to various folding conventions designed to optimize grace with functionality, so this is hardly mere church-fussiness stuff.)

    And linen of course is time-honored as the fabric because that’s what our Lord was shrouded in….

    The symbolism may seem minutiae, but it’s all there to be appreciated for those who might care about such things.

  2. Anne says:

    I was trained to unfold the purificator fully and that’s how I train new EM’s.

    This is from the publication Pastoral Liturgy:
    Wiping the Cup
    After reaching the assigned place, the extraordinary minister should unfold the purificator. This will allow full use of the cloth. (Note that the purificator is, indeed, a cloth. Purificators that are made of anything other than cloth are not permitted. There are no disposable purificators.)
    Purificators should be refolded and placed on the credence table for later washing. Avoid stuffing the purificator into the empty cup.

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  4. An awful lot of things, even little things, in the practice of the Faith are highly symbolic…

    But some things are merely practical.

    I lack the knowledge to know which is the case with the folding of purificators, but I harbor a suspicion…

    it’s the latter.

  5. I use them folded, though I have no idea why.

  6. Pamela says:

    In our church (RC)) purificators and corporals are folded 3X3 and I use the purificator folded.

    I would like to know if there is an official way of washing purificators. Is a washing machine acceptable nowadays? Do purificators need to be rinsed first and the water emptied into the earth?

    • Barbara Hodgson says:

      Yes any water that has been used to rinse the used purification should be emptied onto the earth, preferably near t church. Good practice is to rinse in the vestry before taking away to launder. Using a washing machine is acceptable although hand washing is preferred.

  7. Liam says:

    I thought purificators were supposed to be rinsed in the sacrarium before being laundered. I’ve never done this because this is typically a sacristan’s jurisdiction.

  8. oma bunny says:

    Purificators (as well as corporals) need to be rinsed in the sacrarium by the priest or deacon before being laundered. I usually end up doing this at my parish (where I am sacristan). The person who was laundering the altar linens until recently would not let me do this, since she said it would set the stains. Since she retired, I decided to keep a little spray bottle with a mix of 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 _clear_ Dawn dishwashing liquid at hand. After the first rinsing, I spray the stains and rinse again after a few minutes. Lipstick stains require a little pressing with a paper towel until the stain is absorbed. If there is a lot of lipstick, one could try to scrape or lift most of it off before rinsing. (It never fails! There is always some poor woman who thinks that the Lord requires a lot of her lipstick on the chalice as proof that she’s been there.)

    I can recommend a few resources: “A Handbook for the Sacristan” by Rev. William A. O’Brien”, published by Catholic Research Institute in Veradale, WA, and “Handbook for Laundering Liturgical Linens” published by Angelus Press, Kansas City, MO. The unfortunate thing about the second book is that the cover photo depicts an incorrectly folded corporal ;-(

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