Black Mass  

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"According to Jules Michelet in Satanism and Witchcraft (1862), medieval witchcraft was an act of popular rebellion against the oppression of feudalism and the Roman Catholic Church. This rebellion took the form of a secret religion inspired by paganism and fairy beliefs, organized by a woman who became its leader. The participants in the secret religion met regularly at the Witches' Sabbath and the Black Mass. Michelet's account is openly sympathetic to the sufferings of peasants and women in the Middle Ages."--Sholem Stein

Image:Michael Pacher detail.jpg
This page Black Mass is part of the devil in popular culture series. Illustration: detail from Michael Pacher's panel painting The Devil Presenting St Augustine With The Book Of Vices

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Black Mass is the name given to a ceremony supposedly celebrated during the medieval Witches or Black Sabbath, which was a parody of the Christian Mass. Its main objective was the profanation of the Host, although there is no agreement among authors on how Hosts were obtained or profaned; the most common idea is that they were profaned by means of some ritual related to sexual practices. Authors also disagree on which rites were performed during the ceremony.

Some medieval writers believed that the Host was replaced by a toad, a turnip or a bit of dry flesh, but most judges and authors believed that true hosts were given by Christian priests that had made a diabolical pact to the attendants to the Sabbath to be profaned by them.

Given the modern practices of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, which permits parishioners to receive the host in the hand, it is possible to steal a host in that manner. Though priests and Eucharistic ministers are cautioned to be on the look out for persons who do not immediately consume the host, there are usually too many parishioners at any given Mass or Communion Service to ensure that no hosts are stolen in this manner.

In the Satanic Bible, Anton Szandor LaVey writes that "A usual assumption is that the Satanic ceremony or service is called a black mass. A black mass is not the magical ceremony practiced by Satanists. The Satanist would only employ the use of a black mass as a form of psychodrama. Furthermore, a black mass does not necessarily imply that the performers of such are Satanists. A black mass is essentially a parody on the religious service of the Roman Catholic Church, but can be loosely applied to a satire on any religious ceremony."

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