Spanish Liturgical Tradition of the "Scruple" Spoon

I took these photos in a sacristy in Madrid, Spain staffed by the Institute of Christ the King.  The spoon (buscar) caught my eye, an old Spanish custom that was used to place the drop of water in the chalice during the Offertory.  In English the spoon is called a "scruple" spoon, named for the unit of measurement it holds (a scruple is an ancient until similar to a small pebble).  It seems that its invention had a very practical purpose, possibly to avoid priests being "stingy" with the wine by adding an excessive amount of water.

My Spanish friend and fellow LAJ writer, Lucas Viar of Granda, offered an explanation: 
"The Roman Rite does not prescribe it anywhere, but Pius V allowed its continued use where it existed; to the best of my knowledge, that was in Hispanic and Germanic places.  In Spain it is assumed the custom was inherited from the Mozarabic Rite, but like so many things that are called Mozarabic today, one cannot really be sure.  Isidore of Seville does not mention this custom.   The Germanic use is to place the spoon inside the chalice, pushing the purificator into it.  The Hispanic tradition is to tie the spoon to a ribbon or chain with a medal on the other side, draping it over the purificator.  The medal, usually depicts either Our Lady or St. Joseph."  
Some readers will be happy to know this custom continues in many places in Spain and that Granda of Madrid has continued to make these treasures, available here.   

Below is an image of a Spanish style paten with linen cover.  

The liturgical arts have historically flourished in Spain.  Many thanks to the Institute of Christ the King for all the good things they are doing in Madrid at their busy chapel.  It was a blessing for me to visit and pray here in such a beautiful setting (Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Paz).  

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.