Medieval W. Christendom
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Eucharist became increasingly
central to Church practice and thinking. Celebration of the host wafer came to play an
increasingly important role in Church ritual and in Christian imagination. Given the
prevalent view of Jews as the historic foes of Jesus, in fact responsible for his crucifixion,
and the growing perception of Jews as here-and-now enemies of Christianity and
Christians, it is not entirely surprising that accusations of Jewish crimes against the host
wafer should have emerged.

The host desecration allegation first surfaced in Paris at the end of the thirteenth
century. The core elements continued to involve historic and contemporary Jewish
hatred of Christianity and Jesus. The sense of victims shifted, however, from
contemporary Christians back to Jesus himself, transubstantiated into the host wafer.
Jews were accused of attempting to harm Jesus once again, this time through
maltreatment ofthe host via boiling, piercing, or mutilating. The reports of host
desecration were regularly accompanied by tales of miracles accomplished by the
maltreated host, exposing the purported Jewish hatred and cruelty. Church leadership
was less vigorous in combating the claims of host desecration than it was in challenging
the various forms of allegation of ritualized murder of human victims.