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Old Dec 1, '07, 3:44 am
belgianwaffles9 belgianwaffles9 is offline
Join Date: December 1, 2007
Posts: 400
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default TLM Altar requirements

In light of the Motu Proprio, I've begun to start thinking of the possibility of the TLM at my home parish, which i absolutely love. I love our architechture, which is modern and beautiful (which i wish was done more often), our statues, our stained glass...

I think our Church would be a beautiful place to celebrate the TLM, but i know that, being built after Vatican II, it probably does not meet all of the physical requirements for celebrating one.

So my question is: What are the actual requirements for a Tridentine altar. What is the absolute bare minimum needed, what is the standard, and what are some unusally though legal extras?

I want to know if TLM could be said at our existing Novus Ordo-style altar, or what changes would need to be made to it to allow the celebration of a TLM.

Sorry if this has been answered already; i did a few searches, and read through relevant articles from the Catholic Encycolpedia, but to no avail.


- Andrew


heres a rather low-quality picture of our altar. Too bad you can't see our beautiful stained glass (its night) or our huge crucifix suspended in mid-air. They really are amazing.

Oh, and its the Church of St. Francis of Assissi (a Franciscan parish) in the Diocese of Arlington (VA).
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Old Dec 1, '07, 4:59 am
AJV AJV is offline
Join Date: August 4, 2005
Posts: 4,112
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: TLM Altar requirements

I'm not fully sure how past decrees work with current legislation and what may be "overridden" or not but if you want to go by previous decrees, this is what I thought off - someone else will probably fill in the gaps (and correct if wrong) Most of this information you'll find online in the CE - some of the post-1917 decrees and interpretations have slightly modified some parts and I've included those:

- The altar should be raised on at least one step (known as the predella). This is in accordance with the rubrics which speak of certain prayers being said before the steps of the altar, and also with the idea of ascending to the altar. The Caeremoniale mentions that a rug should cover the predella

Other requirements are dealt with in the General Rubrics 525-529

- According to the rubrics of the 1962 missal, the altar should be made of stone. If not made of stone it may have in it an altar stone which has been properly consecrated ** (When researching on this, you might find it helpful to look for the term Altari ad modum fixi) By stone is meant natural not artificial like concrete.

- There must be a crucifix in the center with at least two candles on either side for a low Mass. The crucifix should be of a size that enables it to be seen clearly. A large cross (or painting of the crucifixion) on the wall behind the altar, in the middle would suffice. Likewise, a hanging cross in the middle was also admitted.

De Defectibus mentions that the candles should be of wax. One pre-conciliar requirement was that at least 2 candles should be of wax in "maxima parte" . This was defined separately by the bishops of each country- some said 65%, some said 70%, , 60% etc.

- There should be three blessed linen cloths. The highest must hang down to the ground on either side. Both the Pontificale and Caeremoniale there was also mentioned another cloth called the chrismale - which is waxed - in the ceremonies for the consecration of an altar - not sure what happens to an already consecrated one without a cloth.

- Altar cards

- Technically, according to the Caeremoniale and liturgical decrees there should be a canopy over the altar extending at least over the middle and the predella. However, even before it was not common and I rarely see it in pictures of Traditional Masses celebrated by (formerly) Indult and non-Indult communities. Some liturgical manuals I have say it is only necessary for altars of the Blessed Sacrament. .

** Here would come the question of what is meant by "properly consecrated" (I don't know the answer). At the time of the 1962 missal, based on the inference of 1917 Code, the majority opinion held that the relics were an essential part for a validly consecrated altar or altar stone. There were those who did hold that it was not essential to have relics - and Indults were granted sometimes for countries to celebrate Mass on altars without relics. For a more detailed view, see here. In the NO, altars may be consecrated without these relics. So the question would be whether these altars are acceptable for use in the Traditional Mass or whether they would be required to be supplemented with a portable altar stone with relics. (Or the antimension of the East- a cloth with relics sewn into it)
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Old Dec 1, '07, 5:18 am
ItalianBoy1993 ItalianBoy1993 is offline
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Join Date: March 26, 2007
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Default Re: TLM Altar requirements

De Defectibus mentions that the candles should be of wax. One pre-conciliar requirement was that at least 2 candles should be of wax in "maxima parte" . This was defined separately by the bishops of each country- some said 65%, some said 70%, , 60% etc.
There should be 2 candles on either side of the crucifix at Low Mass
and the "Big 6" on either side at High Mass

The candles should be Beeswax.
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Old Dec 1, '07, 10:35 am
Hijikata Hijikata is offline
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Join Date: August 16, 2007
Posts: 162
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: TLM Altar requirements

Here is a video of a modern alter being transformed so that it is suitable to celebrate the TLM on it.
Credo in unum Deum
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