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In the Middle Ages an aumbry was a cabinet in the wall of a Christian church or in the sacristy which was used to store chalices and other vessels, as well as for the reserved sacrament, the consecrated elements from the Eucharist. This latter use was infrequent in pre-Reformation churches, although it was known in Scotland, Sweden, Germany and Italy. More usually the sacrament was reserved in a pyx, usually hanging in front of and above the altar or later in a "sacrament house".
After the Reformation and the Tridentine reforms, in the Roman Catholic Church the sacrament was no longer reserved in aumbries; some aumbries were used to house the oil for the Anointing of the Sick. Today in the Roman Catholic Church, the consecrated elements may only be reserved in a tabernacle or hanging pyx; reservation in an aumbry is now forbidden.
The Reformed churches abandoned reservation of the elements, so that aumbries, unless used for housing vessels, became redundant. But, in the Scottish Episcopal church since the eighteenth century and other Anglican churches since the nineteenth century (following the Tractarian revival), reservation has again become common. In the Church of England the sacrament is reserved in all forty-four cathedrals, as well as many parish churches, although it is very uncommon amongst churches of an evangelical tradition. Reservation of the sacrament is quite common in the Episcopal Church of the United States, the Anglican Church of Australia, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as well as in the Anglican Church of Canada (though with varying degrees of veneration, depending on the parish). Even traditionally Low Church parishes, such as St. Anne's, Toronto, reserve the sacrament.
- Walker, Charles, The Ritual Reason Why. Paragraph 396[clarification needed]
- King, Archdale A.; Pocknee, Cyril E. (1965). Eucharistic Reservation in the Western Church. New York: Sheed and Ward. ISBN 0-264-65074-3.
- Halsbury's Laws of England. Ecclesiastical Law (fourth ed.).