Who is a Altar Server: An altar server is a lay assistant to a member of the clergy during a Christian religious service.  An altar server attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying, ringing the altar bell and so on.

Formerly, only men and boys could serve at the altar but canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983 allowed local ordinaries to permit girls and women to do so.

Duties at Mass:

Servers are to act as thurifer with burning incense (if incense is used at the Mass), as bearers of lighted candles flanking another carrying the cross, as other participants in the entrance procession. Processional: Servers carry the thurible, incense boat, processional cross and candles (flambeaux).

Servers hold the liturgical books for the celebrant when he is not at the altar and is proclaiming the presidential prayers with outstretched hands. They bring and hold such things as books, thuribles, lavabo bowl and towel, patens, communion bowls, and microphones

Proclamation of the Gospel: At the preceding Alleluia or other chant, the thurible is presented to the priest for him to put incense in it

Beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist: Servers arrange the corporal, the purificator, the chalice, the pall, and the Missal on the altar, and then assist the priest in receiving the bread and wine and perhaps other gifts that are presented to him. They present the cruets of wine and water for the priest or deacon to pour some into the chalice. If incense is used, the thurible and incense are presented to the priest. a server then incenses the priest and the people. When the priest then washes his hands standing at the side of the altar, a server pours the water over them.

Consecration: A server rings a bell as a signal to the people shortly before the consecration and, where it is the local custom, rings the bell also when the priest displays the consecrated host and chalice to the people. If incense is used, a server incenses the host and the chalice while these are being shown.

  • Sign of Peace: The servers receive the sign of peace from the priest or deacon within the sanctuary.
  • Recessional: The servers accompany the priest as at the entrance procession.
  • Communion: Follow priest with paten in hand and hand over breast for the Communion.

If a bishop celebrates Mass solemnly, two servers, wearing vimpas, hold the mitre and the crosier and present them at the appropriate times.

Vestments used by Altar Servers:  Albs or any other appropriate attire, such as a cassock and surplice, may be worn by servers. Black and red are the most common colors for a server’s cassock.

Some Sacred Vessels and other items:

Chalice – Chalice is Latin meaning “cup.” This is a consecrated cup made of gold or silver, and if silver, the interior must be of gold. It holds the wine for the Holy Sacrifice, and is a striking figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Paten – Paten is Latin meaning “plate.” This is a plate of gold or silver upon which the large bread for consecration rests.

Ciborium – The ciborium is a vessel which contains the small Hosts used for the Communion of the faithful. It can look like a chalice with a large top and cover or a large bowl with a cover.

Monstrance  – The monstrance is a metal vessel, usually gold or silver-plated, with a transparent section in which the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession or exposed for Adoration.

Corporal – The Corporal is a square piece of cloth.  It is spread out on the altar, and the chalice is placed upon it. Its purpose is to ensure that any small particles or crumbs from the Sacred Host can be cleaned easily.

Thurible & Incense Boat and Stand – The thurible  is a metal vessel in the shape of a vase or cup, with cover suspended by chains. It is used for burning incense. The incense boat is a small metal container that holds the incense to be placed into the thurible. The boat has a cover and a spoon. Usually shaped like a boat, it is a symbol of the Church, the ark of Peter.

Purificator – This is a cloth used for wiping the chalice, and the fingers and mouth of the celebrant after Communion. It is spread over the cup of the chalice and under the paten at the beginning and end of Mass.