This second installment aims at providing yet more background from the Council of Trent about communion under both signs. Future installments will then focus on my proposals for answers to the chief question I am posing: What are the most likely meanings of receiving the whole Christ under the sign of wine? Like anything related to the Eucharist, there cannot be an exhaustive answer to the question, because the mystery of the Eucharist is unfathomable.

Trent’s canons on communion under both species and that of little children from Session XXI (July 16, 1562) conclude with a too-little-known promise:

The two articles proposed on another occasion but not yet discussed, namely, whether the reasons which moved the holy Catholic Church to decree that laymen and priests not celebrating are to communicate under the one species of bread only, are so stringent that under no circumstances is the use of the chalice to be permitted to anyone; and whether, in case it appears advisable and consonant with Christian charity that the use of the chalice be conceded to a person, nation or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions, and what are those conditions, the same holy council reserves for examination and definition to another time, at the earliest opportunity that shall present itself.

The Council “delivered” on this promise within the next two months, at Session XXII (September 17, 1562):

Decree Concerning the Petition for the Concession of the Chalice

Moreover, since the same holy council in the preceding session reserved to another and more convenient time the examination and definition of two articles which had been proposed on another occasion and had then not yet been discussed, namely, whether the reasons which induced the holy Catholic Church to decide that lay people and also priests when not celebrating are to communicate under the one species of bread, are so to be retained that under no condition is the use of the chalice to be permitted to anyone; and whether in case, for reasons befitting and consonant with Christian charity, it appears that the use of the chalice is to be conceded to any nation or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions, and what are those conditions; it has now, in its desire to provide for the salvation of those on whose behalf the petition is made, decreed that the entire matter be referred to our most holy Lord [the Pope], as in the present decree it does refer it, who in accordance with his singular prudence will do what he shall judge beneficial for the Christian commonwealth and salutary for those who petition for the use of the chalice.

Fifteen months later (April 16, 1564) Pope Pius IV “complied with the petition for the lay chalice by allowing it, with certain reservations, to the bishops of the six provinces of Germany, the provinces of Esztergom and Prague, and several exempt dioceses” (Erwin Iserloh, Joseph Glazik, and Hubert Jedin, History of the Church: V. 5. Reformation and Counter-Reformation (NY: Seabury, 1986), 497.

Does anyone know how long these concessions lasted? I am awaiting an interlibrary loan of Concession à l’Allemagne de la communion sous les deux espèces: Étude sur les débuts de la réforme catholique en Allemagne (1548-1621) by G[ustave] L[éon] M[arie] J[oseph] Constant (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1923).