Copy of a European sacrament dispenser (1500s)
This rather odd instrument was used to give out Holy Communion while keeping those with plague literally at arm’s length. It is just over a metre long. One prong at the end of the fork has a slit to take the communion wafer, and the other prong has five small holes from which wine can be drunk. This copy was presented to the Wellcome Museum for the History of Medicine, now known as the Wellcome Trust, by the director of the Institut Pasteur in Paris in 1939.
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Glossary: sacrament dispenser
An acute contagious fever with high levels of mortality. Both the 'Black Death' that swept Europe in the 1340s and the Great Plague of London in 1665 are believed to have been bubonic plague.