from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Bread prepared for the eucharist.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
In the East the Syrian Jacobites and the Nestorians knead their altar-bread with a paste of oil and salt, a custom censured by the Egyptians.
The paten is a vessel of the altar on which the altar-bread is offered in the Holy Sacrifice.
Archaeological researches demonstrate this from pictures found in the catacombs, and Pope St. Zephyrinus (A.D. 201-219) calls the altar-bread "coronam sive oblatam sphericae figurae".
Later, when the faithful no longer furnished the altar-bread, a custom arose of bringing bread to the church for the special purpose of having it blessed and distributed among those present as token of mutual love and union, and this custom still exists in the Western Church, especially in France.
In the Proskomide of the Divine Liturgy the Ruthenians are allowed to prepare for Mass with one altar-bread (prosphora) or with three, or even with the dry Agnetz (the square Greek host) if no prosphorae can be had, instead of requiring five prosphorae.