The following commentary is from the EWTN series, The Papacy: A Living History, The Papal Artifacts Collection of Father Richard Kunst. The artifact presented here is the last purificator used by Pope Paul VI. It was featured on the second episode of the series, Popes of the 20th Century.
The DVD is available from EWTN.
Here is Father’s Commentary:
A ‘purificator’ is used at Mass to purify the sacred vessels. This one is the last one that Pope Paul VI used before his death. The last Mass that he presided over was August 3, 1978.
And who knows how this item got out. We can assume what happened, because other stories are like this. The nuns who took care of his household were aware that this might be one of his last Masses. They may have taken this knowing he was in such poor health.
On August 6, 1978, after evening Mass, Paul VI suffered a massive heart attack. He died 3 hours later and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Paul VI was in a comatose state after his last Mass although Mass was still celebrated in his room, but not by him. So again, this is a very meaningful item to be connected to a Pope saying Mass–and his last Mass.
A number of items in the Collection are more worldly than this one, but it always comes back to the Eucharist, to the Body and Blood of Christ. It’s so humbling to hold something like this. History textbooks will never include this item in details about Pope Paul VI, but it concerns a moment in time that was a part of his history. It is a unique item and so connected to the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, and to this Holy Father’s last Mass.
All these items should lead us back to Christ and to the Eucharist. That is the purpose of this Collection–to lead us back to Christ.