Naming of Credence Table


The Credence Table is at the Epistle side of the sanctuary. Exactly when and how did the Credence Table get its name?


What is considered the “Epistle side” in the Ordinary Form? And is such placement dictated by rubric? In the three parishes with which I am most familiar, the credence table is at the left side of the sanctuary (as seen from the pews), and one is on the right.


Interesting…I never gave the placement much thought. In most of my former parishes it has been to the left as you are looking at the altar. At my present parish, it is directly behind the presider’s chair.
Does anybody know if there is a standard placement?


The Credence table itself (where the chalices and water are placed before the Mass) is usually to the left (facing the Altar), which is behind the Ambo (the place where the Gospel is placed and read from, i.e., the Gospel side of the Altar. The table to the right of the Altar, where the chairs are placed for the Priest and Deacon or Server to sit, is usually used for the hymnals, and other things the Priest may need during the prayers at the beginning and end of Mass. It is not usually referred to as the Credence table, but I suppose they could both be considered such. In my Parish, we have the Credence Table behind the Ambo where the Gospel is read, and the other table is just for the convenience of the Priest during parts of the Mass. I don’t think it’s considered a Credence table. Maybe someone here can clarify this?


The root for the word credence comes from the Latin for believer (think creed). Sorry, can’t help you as to when the word was first used to describe the item.


Sounds like the Latin may have had to do with only believer’s being allowed to approach or touch it. Perhaps it was what was used in the catacombs prior to having a church with an Altar? A smaller “believer’s table”???


I don’t give these theories much credence.


When facing ad orientem, it makes much more sense for the credence table to be on the Epistle side. In fact, there’s probably a rubric for the EF to such effect. This is because at the time of the offertory, the missal is on the Gospel side, freeing up the Epistle side for the server. When facing versus populum as is usually the case these days, everything is flipped.


Meaning that in the OF, the Credence table is on the Gospel side, right? Behind the Ambo? (Since the Gospel is declared from the Ambo in the OF). I’m not sure if I give credence to the “Creed table” idea either, unless that was the table to the side of the Altar from which new Believer’s were received into the early church??

Sorry, I couldn’t resist either. Love Catholic jokes/wordplay! But usually only from fellow Catholics since I know they’re kidding!


Modern Catholic Dictionary:

CREDENCE. A small table or shelf in the wall at one side of the altar. On it are usually placed the cruets, basin, and finger towel. The chalice, paten, corporal, and veil used in the Mass may also be placed there until the Offertory of the Mass. (Etym. Latin credere, to believe.)


At every parish church I’ve attended in my diocese, the Gospel and other readings are all read at the same place, and the credence table is placed where it’s most convenient.


Same here. The credence table in our church is on the left as you look at the altar, as are the ambo and the celebrant’s chair. On the right side are the baptismal fonts.


Yes, in the OF there’s no rubric about which side to place the sacramentary but priests are used to having it to their left. When facing versus populum, that means the sacramentary is on the epistle side, freeing up the gospel side for the servers and so it makes more sense to place the credence table on the gospel side. The ambo is usually on the gospel side. After all, it’s called the gospel side because the gospel is proclaimed from that side. But in cathedrals the ambo is usually on the epistle side. I imagine the placement of the cathedra came first. Priests sit on the epistle side and bishops on the gospel side and the ambo is on the opposite side. I don’t know why.


Normally the servers approach the altar on the priest’s own right side, to hand him cruets, etc. So in the EF, where celebrations ad orientem are the norm, the credence table is located on the epistle side. In the OF, where most of the time the celebration is versus populum, it tends to be on the other side, so that the servers still approach the priest on his own right. More a practical placement than anything else.


From Old Catholic Encyclopedia


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit