Thank you to Fr. William P. Saunders for the following information.
How should you properly dispose of old blessed palm, broken statues, rosaries and other items that were blessed?
As Catholics, we are accustomed to having religious objects "blessed." When a priest imparts a blessing which signifies the permanent sanctification and dedication of an object for some sacred purpose. This blessing is technically termed "a constitutive blessing." For example when a bishop dedicates, or classically speaking, consecrates, an altar, that altar must only be used for sacred purposes, particularly the offering of the Mass. Or, when a chalice is blessed, it becomes a sacred vessel dedicated solely to sacred usage. Once a religious object is blessed and dedicated for divine worship or veneration, it must be treated with reverence and not be used in either an improper or profane way (cf. Code of Canon Law, no. 1171).
However, blessed religious objects break or wear from use. The basic rule for the disposition of these items is to burn or to bury them. During the 1800s, both the Sacred Congregation for the Rites and the Holy Office (now known respectively as the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) issued various determinations concerning this issue. Here are a few examples: A chalice which becomes "unserviceable" is not to be sold, but must be used for some other sacred purpose or melted. Vestments, altar cloths and linens must be destroyed. Polluted or excess holy water must be poured into the ground. Palms are to be burned, and the ashes then used for distribution on Ash Wednesday or returned to the ground. A broken rosary or religious statue normally would be buried. In all, the underlying idea is that what has been dedicated to God should be returned to God. Never should one just "throw out" what has been dedicated to God.
Interestingly, this same reasoning governs the disposition of the Holy Eucharist. In each sacristy, there is a sacrarium, which is a sink which does not drain into the sewer system, but directly into the ground. If, for some reason, the priest had to dispose of a Sacred Host, he would rinse it down the sacrarium with water. For instance, once when I was distributing Holy Communion at the nursing home, one of the elderly patients wanted to receive Holy Communion as usual but for some reason on this occasion could not swallow. She proceeded to expectorate the Sacred Host onto a linen purificator. When I returned to the Church, I dissolved and rinsed the Sacred Host down the sacrarium with water.
Living in a society where things have become so disposable, we must not forget those religious objects that have been blessed and dedicated to God and for sacred use. My heart breaks every time I enter an antique store and I see a chalice, a reliquary (sometimes still containing a relic), vestments and other sacred objects that were one time used for the Holy Mass. I have to wonder, "What was someone thinking to just dispose of these items in this way?" They should have tried to find these religious objects a new home in a mission Church or have disposed of them in the proper way.
Please be sure to always cherish the blessed religious objects at home, venerate them with piety, and when necessary, dispose of them properly.
Love and Blessings, Wendy C.
"Healing Mind, Body & Soul"
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Thank you so much for sharing this! I will try to translate this and share it with my church here in Norway!
WENDY, I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THECORRECT INFORMATION ON HAVING TO DISPOSE OF BLESSED OBJECTS, I HAD AN INFANT OF PRAGUES STATUE FALL OFF A SHELF AND BREAK ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO, I DID NOT REALIZE WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE, AFTER HOLDING ON TO WHAT WAS LEFT AND CRYING LIKE A BABY I THREW IT OUT AND FELT EVEN WORSE WHEN MY MOTHER INFORMED ME I WAS WRONG, I AM SO VERY SORRY FOR WHAT I DID, BUT WILL NOT DO IT AGAIN. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. WENDY, MAY I ASK YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TO PRAY FOR MY 9 YEAR OLD GRANDDAUGHTER WHO HAS BEEN HAVING SO MANY PROBLEMS WITH HER STOMACH, SHE IS IN PAIN QUITE OFTEN. SHE IS GOING TO HER DOCTOR AGAIN MONDAY FOR A CONSULT AND I AM PRAYING SHE WILL BE FINE, AND IT IS NOTHING SERIOUS. I ALSO HAVE A VERY INTENSE PERSONAL PRAYER REQUESS FOR ALL MY FAMILY MEMBERS FOR SPIRITUAL HEALING, INCLUDING MYSELF, AS WE ALL NEED SPIRITUAL HEALING, YOUR PRAYERS WILL BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED, AND I SHALL PRAY FOR YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY. MAY GOD BLESS ALL SOULS ESPECIALLY AND END TO ALL ABORTIONS, IN JESUS HOLY NAME I PRAY, AND THANK YOU ALL. AMEN.
This is important for people to know because I have seen blessed items being sold by people who are Catholic at their table at a Church flea market. I have stated that it’s not right to do so and have been brushed off as being ridiculous. Many people do not understand what a blessed object means and so they need to be educated about it. One problem that comes to mind, as to burying blessed objects, is that it’s very possible that they will be dug up in the future when some one does new construction or even gardening. I live in an area where new property owners change everything when they buy a house here. It would be great if the Catholic cemeteries would accept broken blessed items and bury them in a small area set aside especially for that.
Thank you for letting us know how to dispose blessed broken statue.
Thank you for your artical regarding the proper disposal of sacred objects. My step mother’s uncle was a priest and she had many blessed statues and crosses. I have many in my home already and would like to donate some of these to a mission church. Could you send me addresses? I greatly appreciate your help.
Thank you Wendy. This info is very helpful.
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July 20, 2016
Thank you for sharing this information.
God bless you..