MONSTRANCE (through the French from Lat. monstrare, to show), a vessel used in the Roman Church for the exhibition of the Host at Benediction (q.v.) and also when carried in processions. Another name for the vessel is ostensorium, from ostendere, to exhibit, show; whence the usual French name ostensoir. The monstrance was formerly used of a reliquary, exposing the sacred object to view. The earlier monstrances followed the usual shape of these reliquaries, viz. a cylindrical crystal case mounted in metal frames, elaborately ornamented and jewelled. Such often took the form of a turret. There is a i sth-century Italian example in South Kensington Museum of a pilastered turret containing an oblong crystal case, the whole resting on a stemmed base, and surmounted with a cupola. In the 16th century the present shape was adopted, viz. a crystal or glass circular disk, more suited to the shape of the sacred wafer; this is mounted in a frame of golden rays, and the whole is supported by a stem and bases. The exhibition of the Host dates from the institution of the Festival of Corpus Christi (q.v.) by Urban IV. in 1264.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)