Life & Liturgy Artifacts
October 20, 2006 5:36 AM   Subscribe

A collection of American Catholic paraphernalia, including mysterious (for me, a non-Catholic) objects like; aspergills, clappers and Sick call sets. There are also more rosaries, medals and pins than you can shake a stick at.
posted by tellurian (20 comments total)
Apparently, per Wikipedia, an aspergill is a device used to sprinkle holy water. The "sick call set" includes an aspergill, so my presumption is that it's a kit for priests to make house calls.

A quick wiki search does not indicate what a clapper is.

Is American Catholic paraphernalia different from, say, Brazilian or French?
posted by Malor at 5:49 AM on October 20, 2006

Clap on, clap off?
posted by fixedgear at 5:51 AM on October 20, 2006

The sick call set is for parishoners at home who may be too sick to attend mass. A member of the clergy brings the kit with them and conducts a special service. There's even a tiny monstrance for the Communion host.

The clapper is most likely a rope guide for ringing chapel bells, as a rope tied directly to the weight can sometimes muffle the sound. An entension permits greater control, and can be removed from the bell quicker, during times of maintenance/cleaning.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:11 AM on October 20, 2006

This other clapper I have seen before but in quite different circumstances. They used to be common at British football matches.
posted by tellurian at 6:17 AM on October 20, 2006

The clapper might also be part of a carillion.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:18 AM on October 20, 2006

tellurian - in some circles, that's known as a battle rattle. And of course, there's always slapsticks, but that's another story...
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:25 AM on October 20, 2006

My father used to be an acolyte, and one of his duties was to go out on "sick calls" when our priest couldn't make it. He'd get consecrated hosts from the priest and put them into a Tupperware box. The Tupperware box went into a plastic fishing tackle box, along with an aspergill, some candles in fat crystal candleholders, a little plastic crucifix thingy, a monstrance, a tangle of scapulas, little vinyl-covered prayerbooks and some other stuff. The host only left the tupperware and entered the monstrance once my dad had pulled into the driveway of the sick believer whose house he was visiting.
I always hated going to church, but loved looking at all the things he had in that tackle box - and even though I knew what they were "for", they were still oddly mysterious to me. Thanks for the post.
posted by bunglin jones at 7:01 AM on October 20, 2006

A search for Catholic clappers turned up these two small nuggets.

This could be what the first, small clapper was used for.
Institute of Notre-Dame de Namur
This system of instruction is based upon that of St. John Baptist de La Salle, and may be read broadly in the "Management of Christian Schools," issued by the Christian Brothers. The points of uniformity in the primary and secondary schools of all countries are chiefly: the emphasis laid upon thorough grounding in reading, writing, and arithmetic, grammar and composition, geography, and history; the half hour's instruction daily in Christian doctrine; the half-hourly change of exercise; the use of the signal or wooden clapper in giving directions for movements in class; the constant presence of the teacher with her class whether in the class-room or recreation ground; the preparation of lessons at home, or at least out of class hours. Vocal and chart music, drawing and needlework are taught in all the schools. No masters from outside may give lessons to the pupils in any of the arts or sciences.
Maybe this, for the second larger one.
Lenten Customs of the Russian Germans
During Holy Week, since no church bells are rung from Mass on Thursday until Mass on the following Saturday, a unique method of announcing services was used in the colonies. The altar boys, Klepperer, went through the villages several times a day, singing and striking clappers to announce to the people the Angelus or the hour for services. After Mass on Holy Saturday the Klepperer went from house to house collecting eggs as pay for their services. They walked through the streets chanting,
Klepper, Klepper, Eier 'raus,
Wenn ihr mir kein'
Eier gibt, so schlag'
Ich euch ein Loch ins Haus.
(Clapper, Clapper,
Out with the eggs,
If you don't give me any,
I will knock a hole in your house.)
posted by tellurian at 7:25 AM on October 20, 2006

I recall the priest making a 'cracking' sound during Stations (falls, falls 2x) when I was a kid, but this clapper looks unsuitable for much clapping.

More like a pincer of some sort.
posted by unixrat at 7:31 AM on October 20, 2006

This is really cool. Does anyone know where I can get a pair of new liturgical sandals?
posted by parmanparman at 8:04 AM on October 20, 2006

parmanparman: Here you go.
posted by loquacious at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2006

Clappers were used to indicate to children when to sit, stand, and kneel during mass, as well as to indicate other regimented movements like to stand and turn to face the aisle in preparation for filing out of church.

The nuns at the catholic school I attended prefered those spring-steel clicker toys sometimes called crickets.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:23 AM on October 20, 2006

There is some movie I've forgotten which has a funny scene where mischevious boys steal a clapper and start using it during mass. The parishoners keep standing, sitting, and kneeling whenever they hear the clapper. I love Catholic paraphenelia, they are like barnacles on a great big sinking ship.
posted by Falconetti at 9:17 AM on October 20, 2006

What. No indulgences?
posted by hal9k at 9:50 AM on October 20, 2006

It's funny the stuff you remember from your childhood. I knew what the aspergill was the moment I clicked on the link, though I didn't know that is what it was called.
posted by quin at 10:03 AM on October 20, 2006

Falconetti, I'll pray for you.
posted by genefinder at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2006

Falconetti- that's in Sleepers. and it's just the girls from the school, not parishoners.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2006

I went to Catechism and Mass and stuff as a kid, but my parents weren't fanatics. My friend's parents, on the other hand.... they had plastic wall-mounted holy water fonts beside the front and back doors, and a booklet on the telephone table entitled "How to Prepare the Sick Room for the Priest." (No one was terminally ill at that house, and that title just creeped me out.) One time during Summer I was over there playing, and the tornado sirens went off. Instead of taking cover, her mom got one of their Palm Sunday palms, lit it on fire, and walked from room to room spreading the smoke.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:15 PM on October 20, 2006

From the last time I actually attended Mass I remember that they now use a little bell to indicate to parishioners when to sit/stand/kneel/etc.
posted by clevershark at 12:15 PM on October 21, 2006

The clapper is most likely a rope guide for ringing chapel bells

The clapper might also be part of a carillion

Clappers were used to indicate to children when to sit, stand and kneel during Mass

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. The clapper (technically known as a crotalus) is a piece of liturgical equipment, and takes the place of the altar bell between the end of the Gloria on Maundy Thursday and the beginning of the Gloria at the Easter Vigil. (The idea is that bells are symbols of celebration, and therefore should not be rung to mark the death and burial of Christ.)

Post Vatican II, the use of the crotalus has now been abandoned in most Roman Catholic churches, but can still be found in very high Anglo-Catholic (= Episcopalian) churches. I know one church where everyone in the congregation is given saucepans or other bits of old metal to bang during the Elevation on Good Friday -- this may seem ludicrous, but it's actually very effective in marking this out as a special moment in the church's year; a moment when the usual rules don't apply and everything is disturbingly chaotic.
posted by verstegan at 1:08 PM on October 21, 2006

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