Luke Clossey

Published On


Page Range

pp. 199–240


  • English

Print Length

42 pages

9. The Eucharist in its Liturgical Context

  • Luke Clossey (author)
This chapter explains the logistics of the liturgical calendar and the eucharistic ritual. On the production side, the number of masses performed was not chosen for its resonance, but was maximized based on worldly constraints—the availability of space (the number of altars), money, and time. Similarly, on the consumption side, enthusiasts running between churches sought to behold the highest possible number of masses, a number without any deep-ken meaning. In the deep ken, the glory of the mass was optimized by carefully orchestrating time, place, and other circumstances so they would consonate with each other. In contrast, the interest in maximizing the number of heard masses depended more on the plain ken. Especially in Bohemia and England, but even as far away as Tunisia, critics expressed pointed doubts that the eucharist ritual could turn wine and bread into Jesus's body and blood. Often these objections assumed a plain ken regarding space, which created obstacles to the transformation of matter, to the perception of the invisible, and to the possibility that Jesus could exist simultaneously across the breadth of Christendom. Other critics fought over interpretations of the Jesus's words used to institute the mass. The intensity of these debates fuelled rumours of desecrations. A number of miracles demonstrated that the consecrated host was powerful, indestructible, and unable to be misplaced. Local and transregional cults developed around hosts that bled to empirically drown out all these intellectual controversies.


Luke Clossey

Associate Professor of Global History at Simon Fraser University

Luke Clossey is an associate professor of global history at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. His first book, Salvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Missions (Cambridge UP, 2008), won the Canadian Historical Association's Ferguson Prize for best work of non-Canadian history; a chapter from it won a paper prize from the World History Association. His writings on global religion, the history of ideas, and history methodology have appeared in the Journal of World History, the Journal of Global History, the Journal of Early Modern History, the Sixteenth Century Journal, Global History Review 全球史评 论 , History Compass, the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, and The Cambridge World History.