[quote=Crusader]I’m not convinced that rood screens were typically between the altar and the congregation, as I stated in my original posting. In some cases sure, but certainly not in all cases.
In your picture above I cannot tell if the sanctuary or the nave is in the foreground. If it’s from the nave, the rood screen is behind the altar…
From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The rood (crucifix), however, striking and prominent as it was intended to be, was often eclipsed by the rood-screen over which it was placed. The precise origin of the screen and its connection with the rood is somewhat obscure, and apparently varied in different churches. The custom of screening off the altar is very ancient, and emphasizing, as it did, the air of mystery surrounding the place of sacrifice, was possibly a survival of Judaism; **but the placing of a screen, more or less solid, between the chancel and nave – ** i.e. between clergy and people – must have originated from practical rather than from symbolic reasons, and was probably an attempt to secure privacy and comfort for those engaged in the work of the choir, more especially at times when there was no congregation present. This was certainly the case with the heavy closed screens, usually of stone, in the large conventual and collegiate churches, where the long night offices would have been impossible in winter without some such protection.
The Chancel is the Sanctuary. The Rood Screens seperated the Sacnctuary (including the Altar) from the Nave (the people)
Some were, in fact, placed somewhat into what is the Nave as to include a Choir, but that was the only difference in placement I am familar with. Even in that case, it seperated the Holy from the Common.
By definition though, a Rood Screen exists between the Sanctuary (which includes the Altar) and the Main Body of the Church.
Also, the Main Altar is behind the screen in St. Peter’s. There is a wooden common altar in front, but that is a modern addition.