Altar Cloths

I know from reading various things that the Altar cloth that covers the mensa must be white. I am looking for some concrete information about the use of other cloths on the altar, such as an antependium or altar scarf.
My parish uses altar scarves that are basically 2 strips of material in the liturgical color of the day and resemble a stole.
My question is should the scarves be placed under the white altar cloth or can they be placed over the altar cloth. If they are over the altar cloth they look finished, like a stole over a priest’s surplice, if they are under the cloth it seems like it is sticking out.

Ultimately, if put over the altar cloth that covers the mensa, is that breaking the rule of upper most cloth being white?

It seems so.

From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

When, in the dioceses of the United States of America, other cloths are used in addition to the altar cloth, then those cloths may be of other colors possessing Christian honorific or festive significance according to longstanding local usage, provided that the uppermost cloth covering the mensa (i.e., the altar cloth itself) is always white in color.


Also, the principle from 306 seems to apply:

  1. Only what is required for the celebration of the Mass may be placed on the mensa of the altar: namely, from the beginning of the celebration until the proclamation of the Gospel, the Book of the Gospels; then from the Presentation of the Gifts until the purification of the vessels, the chalice with the paten, a ciborium if necessary, and, finally, the corporal, the purificator, the pall, and the Missal.

307 and 308 mention that a crucifix and candles should also be on or near the altar.

In my church the altar cloth usually corresponds to the liturgical color. So we have white during Christmas and Easter, Green during ordinary Time, Violet during Advent and Lent and then Red on Palm Sunday and Pentecost. I know during the past year I reminded them to change it to red for the Weekend of June 28 & 29 which they did but I didn’t get changed the weekend of Sept. 13 & 14, it just stayed green. It Wasn’t changed either to White for All Souls Sunday but I went to the church before the 4 pm mass Christ the King Weekend to change it.

What church is in your sig?

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