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News > Old Scholar > Rev. P. P. Maclaren Communion Set

Rev. P. P. Maclaren Communion Set

From the Archives | Miniature Communion Set
15 Feb 2023
Old Scholar

I am sure most of you would have seen a communion set before, either in the School chapel, at service, or maybe in a movie. Have you ever seen one only a few inches tall? It does not seem too practical to be used in church. But back in the 19th and 20th centuries, a miniature communion set was one of the most practical items clergymen could have on their person as they travelled throughout the new colonies and the outback of Australia (Frontier Services,2011).

With British settlements growing throughout Australia, many groups and individuals moved to the bush and outback, somewhat isolated from the forming cities, and great distances from larger populations. Religion was an important aspect of many people’s lives, and it was necessary for a way to be created for distant and isolated communities to receive communion and a form of service.

Priests and clergy would travel from their local parish and congregations to these communities (Lake, 2020). To make travelling easier, miniature communion sets became a hot item. They were lighter, saved space, and made the travelling priests less of a target for potential highwaymen or thieves.

Miniature Communion Sets were also used by chaplains in the military during war. Soldiers were often stuck on the front lines for weeks on end and the difficulty of their situation led many to turn to clergy for spiritual relief. Chaplains would conduct counselling, study groups, and religious services. Smaller communion sets were able to fit in their kit bags so that communion could be provided at these services. During World War 1, Chaplains often did not receive any formal military service and would be taken out of active war zones as quickly as possible after being posted there (Australian War Memorial, 2021).

This miniature communion set currently on display in Old School House was owned by Rev. P. P. Maclaren, a former staff member who served in the St Peter’s College Chapel. He was employed at the School from 1911-1916 and moved to Melbourne for a time, before returning to St Peter’s College from 1924-1932. It is likely that this communion set was carried with him as he travelled throughout Australia.

Maclaren's Communion Set was donated to St Peter's College in the mid-1990's.See the Miniature Communion Set and other religious items owned previously by members of the School community in the Foyer of Old School House.

References Australian War Memorial. (2021).Chaplains, Australian Army, First World War. Australian War Memorial. Services. (2011). Our History—Frontier Services. Frontier Services: Standing with People in the Bush., M. (2020). The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History. United Kingdom: New South Publishing.

Mrs Elisabeth Bramford, SPSC Archivist

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