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How to dispose of Worn-out Sacramentals

When a material sacramental becomes so worn that it can no longer be used as a sacramental, a Catholic won’t casually toss it into the trash. To prevent desecration, the sacramental should be returned to the earthly elements. Holy water, for example, should be poured into a hole dug in the earth, in a spot no one would walk over. Combustible sacramentals, such as scapulars and holy books, should be burned and then buried.

Larger sacramentals that don’t burn should be altered so that their form no longer appears to be a sacramental (ex., a statue should be broken up into small pieces) and then buried. Objects made of metals can be melted down and used for another purpose.

Items lose their blessing or consecration if they are desecrated, are substantially broken such that they can no longer be used for their sacred purpose, or if they are publicly sold (if an item is sold by one individual to another for only the price of the material itself — i.e., if no profit is made, the blessing remains. E.g., if you were to give somone, say, a blessed rosary or sell it to him at cost, he would not have to have it re-blessed; if you sell a blessed rosary to someone for profit, he would need to take it to a priest.)

Note that on 23 June — the Eve of the Feast of St. John the Baptist — it is custom to build large bonfires in which no longer useful material sacramentals are burned.

The Blessed Sacrament

In the sacristy (also called “vestry”) of a church — the room where vestments, vessels and oils are stored — there is a special sink called a “sacrarium” (also “piscina”) which is used for cleaning sacred vessels. This basin’s drainage pipe doesn’t lead to the sewer as do those of most sinks; instead, it goes directly to the earth so that liquid sacramentals, such as Holy Water and oils, or even the tiniest morsels of the Blessed Sacrament or drops of the Precious Blood which might be found on Patens or in Chalices, will be disposed of correctly and with reverence. If the accidents of a consecrated Host or chalice of the Precious Blood were to become contaminated in some way such that it could not be consumed, they are disposed of in the sacrarium.

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  1. AS A CATHOLIC BORN AND RISE AND HOPEFULLY DIED AS ONE, I WAS ALWAYS THOUGH TO BURIED MY BLESSED ITEMS, AS A GROWN WOMEN AND AS A CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN THAT IS WHAT I STILL DO.

  2. I really want to thank you for this article. I have been in a dilemma about this for a loooooong time. I have quite a number of old rosaries I have been scared of disposing. Thanks!

  3. what about holy pictures ?? what does one do if they are no longer required to be kept ? or should they be kept or stored away?

    • Holy pictures are not usually blessed, but they should be burned and never thrown out as trash. The ashes need not be buried because pictures are not sacramentals unless they have been blessed by a priest.

  4. Yes, I’m very proud be a Catholic. I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. That there is only one church truly established by Jesus Christ thru His Apostles (not many churches simply established by men in the 15th century with contradicting teachings and doctrines) That the authentic and genuine authority in the creation and establishment of the Catholic Church came directly from Christ Himself.

  5. I was just thinking before I started becoming a practicing Catholic I think I used to throw my blessed items away but I didn’t know. What do I do. I feel so bad now that I know I should have never done that.

  6. I’m glad I read this article. I too, have many rosaries and the ones that are really in bad shape were a worry. now I know I can bury them. Thank you.

  7. Now I understand why Quebecois have a tradition of lighting huge bonfires on the Eve of the Feast of St. John the Baptist! It’s become secularized so the original meaning was lost to many, which is a shame. I was taught to burn sacramentals though, and also to burn the national flag when it is no longer suitable for display. Even worn out Bibles are burned. Every church parish I’ve belonged to has had a basket for broken rosaries with a little sign that says, “For the Missions.” I’ve always wondered what the missionaries do with them. Depending on the materials they’re made from, they may be recycled into new rosaries, I guess.

  8. im happy for this article because I always wonder what to do with my worn out sacramental. will share it with others

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Written by Raphael Benedict

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