As a Former Catholic Altar Girl, This Intrigues Me Greatly


How do you properly dispose of broken rosaries and other blessed items?


Thanks to the uCatholic blog I have a perfect Sunday topic. How this blog found its way into my inbox is a mystery but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

And although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I was indeed an altar girl while attending an all-girl Catholic boarding school. The subject of blessed items, from rosaries to altar wine, is not foreign to me. As a matter of fact, it’s quite intriguing – especially the rules around disposing of these items.

According to the uCatholic blog:

  • If you have any blessed item e.g. a rosary or a statue or even a palm branch, you have to show proper reverence and properly dispose of those items when they are damaged or just falling apart.
  • The rituals described by uCatholic definitely piqued my interest – especially as an urban dweller, I have no idea where one would do all this burning and burying without raising all kinds of red flags.
  • But uCatholic makes it very clear that tradition demands blessed items, broken or damaged, must be burned or buried. After an item has been burned, its ashes should also be buried.
  • If the item does not disintegrate into the Earth, such as plastic, it is acceptable to break apart the item then discard it appropriately.
  • The tradition of returning blessed items to the Earth stems from the idea that an object sanctified in God’s name should be returned to God, much like the way a person is buried and returned to the earth.

Read on below for more on how to properly dispose of  altar cloths and even Holy Water.

While the tradition of returning objects to the earth stems back thousands of years, in 1874 the Sacred Congregation for the Rites and the Holy Office issued formal determinations on what proper disposal methods are for blessed items.

  •  Any linen, vestment, or altar cloth should be burned and the ashes buried.
  • Excess or contaminated Holy Water should be poured directly into the ground.
  • Palms should be burned, and the ashes used for Ash Wednesday with the excess buried.
  • Similarly, a rosary or statue would be buried.

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