The Pax (Osculatorium or Tabula Pacis)

The "pax" is an instrument whose function is best revealed by its Latin name: the osculatorium.  In a nutshell, the osculatorium is a small tablet to be kissed within the context of the sacred liturgy at the sign of peace. The origins of this tablet relate to the practice of passing the "peace" (pax) by means of a kiss. By the thirteenth century, beginning with the Franciscans, this practice began to shift for reasons both social and sanitary and this kiss was given instead to this small tablet, made of wood or metal and frequently bearing an image of the crucifixion, the Blessed Virgin or some saint of local importance. 

Ceremonially speaking, the osculatorium is presented to the celebrant by a server and the celebrant says "Pax tecum" (Peace be with you). The tablet is wiped with a linen cloth and then the server presents the Pax to those who are the receive the peace saying to each, "Pax tecum" (to which they respond, "Et cum spiritu tuo"). 

The osculatorium as seen in the Domincan rite. Many pax instruments have a handle in the back by which the pax can be held. (Photo by Lawrence Lew, O.P.)

With that as a background, here are a few different examples of this instrument for your consideration coming from different centuries.






18th century


18th century



Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.