EUCHARISTIC VEILS, VESSELS, AND IMPLEMENTS
There are four types of Eucharistic veils used in the Coptic Church: altar veils, chalice veils, mats, and the paten veil. The Eucharistic vessels and implements are the chalice, paten, asterisk, spoon, and ark used at the altar in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The Eucharistic vessels must be consecrated before being used in the church. These vessels, though usually made of silver, may alternatively be made of more precious metals, glass, or terracotta.
The ark is a wooden box that always stands in the middle of the altar. The top has a round hole for the chalice. The four sides carry religious paintings. It must be stressed here that, in accordance with the practice of the Coptic Church, the ark is to house the chalice only during the prayers of the liturgy, and not to hold the Precious Body and Blood following their consecration.
The paten is a flat, shallow, circular dish, with a turned-up edge. It is used to hold the Eucharist bread, which is consecrated during the celebration of the liturgy and is transformed into the Body of Christ.
The asterisk (in the Greek church, “star”) consists of two half-circles in the form of a dome, intersecting at right angles, and riveted together with a small cross at the top. It folds so as to be conveniently stored. During the liturgy, it is set over the consecrated oblations in the paten to prevent the veil from touching them. It bears a mystical significance to the Star of Bethlehem that led the wise men to the infant Savior while he was lying in the manger.
The chalice is the wine cup used in the celebration of the Eucharist. At the celebration of the Eucharist, the priest pours the wine into the chalice from the cruet, fills the empty cruet partially with water, and adds the water in turn to the wine in the chalice, which sits inside the ark on the altar. The wine and water refer to blood and water (John 19:34, 1 John 5:6).
The spoon is used for administering the Precious Blood to the communicants.