Regarding the measurement of the altar?


#1

What was Our Lord's height?Are altars traditionally cut at this length?Just wondering.


#2

[quote="Bravo_6, post:1, topic:292970"]
What was Our Lord's height?Are altars traditionally cut at this length?Just wondering.

[/quote]

The only indication that I am aware of is that He was above average height. The source of this estimate is the Gospel mentioning some being able to see Him over the crowds. So I'd figure a head above average for the day.


#3

[quote="Bravo_6, post:1, topic:292970"]
What was Our Lord's height?Are altars traditionally cut at this length?Just wondering.

[/quote]

If one goes by the Shroud of Turin, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet 1 inch tall.:shrug:


#4

As far as I can tell, the measurement of the altar is not based on Jesus' height. Instead, altars are built according to certain criteria laid out in several church documents.

Built of Living Stones, a document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) describes how the altar's size is chosen:

§ 57 § The altar is the natural focal point of the sanctuary and is to be "freestanding to allow the [priest] to walk around it easily and Mass to be celebrated facing the people."75 Ordinarily, it should be fixed (with the base affixed to the floor) and with a table or mensa made of natural stone,76 since it represents Christ Jesus, the Living Stone (1 Pt 2:4). The pedestal or support for the table may be fashioned from "any sort of material, as long as it is becoming and solid."77 In the United States it is permissible to use materials other than natural stone for a fixed altar, provided these materials are worthy, solid, properly constructed, and subject to the further judgment of the local ordinary.78 Parishes building new churches must follow the directives of the diocesan bishop regarding the kind of altar chosen and suitable materials for new altars.

§ 58 § Although there is no specified size or shape for an altar, it should be in proportion to the church. The shape and size should reflect the nature of the altar as the place of sacrifice and the table around which Christ gathers the community to nourish them. In considering the dimensions of the altar, parishes will also want to insure that the other
major furnishings in the sanctuary are in harmony and proportion to the altar. The mensa should be large enough to accommodate the priest celebrant, the deacon, and the acolytes who minister there and should be able to hold The Sacramentary [The Roman Missal] and the vessels with the bread and wine. Impact and focal quality are not only related to placement, size, or shape, but also especially to the quality of the altar's design and worthiness of its construction. The altar should be centrally located in the sanctuary and the center of attention in the church.

You can find Built of Living Stones here: catholic-doc.org/br/files/g-stones.pdf


#5

Funny you should ask whether an altar is based on a man's height. there just so happens to be a tradition that says when te 1st century Christians in Rome were being persecuted, to avoid persecution, they went down and celebrated mass in the catacombs with the martyrs bodies down there. Instead of bringing tables down there which would've been suspicious and clumsy and so on, they used the sarcophagus' (the big stone box or "casket" where bodies are held) of the martyrs for the altar instead. when Christianity was an allowed religion, they went above ground but still brought the sarcophagus' with them int the churches and kept them there (I forget why exactly). eventually, there weren't as many martyrdom's occurring at the rate they were or something like that and somewhere along the line, they just started to use stone tables and put Relics on the altars in place of the martyrs bodies insside of them. now that these more modern parishes are replacing the older traditional ones, relics aren't seen as important and are seen as a long gone tradition of the past, so sadly relics are being sold or destroyed or simply thrown out :shrug: but back on topic, that's what some people say is the origin of the altar, and i believe it to be true. :)


#6

[quote="padrepio_2012, post:5, topic:292970"]
Funny you should ask whether an altar is based on a man's height. there just so happens to be a tradition that says when te 1st century Christians in Rome were being persecuted, to avoid persecution, they went down and celebrated mass in the catacombs with the martyrs bodies down there. Instead of bringing tables down there which would've been suspicious and clumsy and so on, they used the sarcophagus' (the big stone box or "casket" where bodies are held) of the martyrs for the altar instead. when Christianity was an allowed religion, they went above ground but still brought the sarcophagus' with them int the churches and kept them there (I forget why exactly). eventually, there weren't as many martyrdom's occurring at the rate they were or something like that and somewhere along the line, they just started to use stone tables and put Relics on the altars in place of the martyrs bodies insside of them. now that these more modern parishes are replacing the older traditional ones, relics aren't seen as important and are seen as a long gone tradition of the past, so sadly relics are being sold or destroyed or simply thrown out :shrug: but back on topic, that's what some people say is the origin of the altar, and i believe it to be true. :)

[/quote]

That is actually true. :)

Also from Built of Living Stones:

§ 60 § In the Church's history and tradition, the altar was often placed over the tombs of the saints or the relics of saints were deposited beneath the altar. The presence of relics of saints in the altar provides a witness to the Church's belief that the Eucharist celebrated on the altar is the source of the grace that won sanctity for the saints.79 The custom of placing small relics of martyrs or other saints in an altar stone and setting this in the mensa has changed since the Second Vatican Council. Relics of martyrs or other saints may be placed beneath the altar, as long as the relics are of a size sufficient for them to be recognizable as parts of a human body and that they are of undoubted authenticity. Relics are no longer placed on the altar or set into the mensa in an altar stone.

In the early Church, on the anniversary of the death of a martyr, Christians would hold a feast or Mass over the tomb of the martyr.


#7

[quote="padrepio_2012, post:5, topic:292970"]
Funny you should ask whether an altar is based on a man's height. there just so happens to be a tradition that says when te 1st century Christians in Rome were being persecuted, to avoid persecution, they went down and celebrated mass in the catacombs with the martyrs bodies down there. Instead of bringing tables down there which would've been suspicious and clumsy and so on, they used the sarcophagus' (the big stone box or "casket" where bodies are held) of the martyrs for the altar instead. when Christianity was an allowed religion, they went above ground but still brought the sarcophagus' with them int the churches and kept them there (I forget why exactly). eventually, there weren't as many martyrdom's occurring at the rate they were or something like that and somewhere along the line, they just started to use stone tables and put Relics on the altars in place of the martyrs bodies insside of them. now that these more modern parishes are replacing the older traditional ones, relics aren't seen as important and are seen as a long gone tradition of the past, so sadly relics are being sold or destroyed or simply thrown out :shrug: but back on topic, that's what some people say is the origin of the altar, and i believe it to be true. :)

[/quote]

Sometimes it takes a brave man to ask a somewhat stupid question and the results may be surprising.Thanks for that mate!


#8

I would imagine He was taller than the altar at our parish church, or he would barely come up to the pastor’s waist.

I love checking this forum every morning…there’s always at least one thread that makes me almost spit coffee on my keyboard. :smiley:


#9

And those bodies of martyrs down there were called catacumens. :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

[quote="robertericleech, post:8, topic:292970"]
I would imagine He was taller than the altar at our parish church, or he would barely come up to the pastor's waist.

I love checking this forum every morning...there's always at least one thread that makes me almost spit coffee on my keyboard. :D

[/quote]

Keep in mind,I am talking about a traditional altar as mentioned,not the table set in front of it.Most of the older churches still have the old altars used for the tridentine mass.Later replaced by tables post Vatican II.


#11

[quote="Bravo_6, post:10, topic:292970"]
Keep in mind,I am talking about a traditional altar as mentioned,not the table set in front of it.Most of the older churches still have the old altars used for the tridentine mass.Later replaced by tables post Vatican II.

[/quote]

[edited]

We'll have you know that free-standing altars are actually a Franciscan tradition (or was it a Benedictine tradition? Or both?) going back hundreds, if not a thousand years. They are called altars and deserve respect and veneration, for they are the place where the Body and Blood of Christ become present for us.


#12

[quote="curlycool89, post:11, topic:292970"]
Well, I see this went off into trolling territory.

We'll have you know that free-standing altars are actually a Franciscan tradition (or was it a Benedictine tradition? Or both?) going back hundreds, if not a thousand years. They are called altars and deserve respect and veneration, for they are the place where the Body and Blood of Christ become present for us.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: Other Christian denominations that do not hold the same respect and veneration for the altar simply call it a "table." The free-standing altars are altars all the same.


#13

[quote="findingmyself08, post:6, topic:292970"]
Also from Built of Living Stones:

Relics are no longer placed on the altar or set into the mensa in an altar stone.

[/quote]

That said, Canon 1237 §2 states, "The ancient tradition of placing relics of martyrs or other saints under a fixed altar is to be preserved, according to the norms given in the liturgical books."

Our parish did just that, in December 2010.


#14

I guess that’s a good thing built on living stones isn’t authoritative!


#15

[quote="curlycool89, post:11, topic:292970"]
We'll have you know that free-standing altars are actually a Franciscan tradition (or was it a Benedictine tradition? Or both?) going back hundreds, if not a thousand years. They are called altars and deserve respect and veneration, for they are the place where the Body and Blood of Christ become present for us.

[/quote]

this thread gives me two facts that if i remember them,when i drop them in conversation folks will think i'm a genius.that is if i don't say anything else !:o


#16

I don’t necessarily think Built of Living Stones is meant to be authoritative, but is instead giving recommendations.

That being said, as Erich pointed out Canon 1237 §2 states the following (my emphasis is in bold):

The ancient tradition of placing relics of martyrs or other saints under a fixed altar is to be preserved, according to the norms given in the liturgical books.

Now, let’s look again at what Built of Living Stones says (my emphasis in bold again):

Relics are no longer placed on the altar or set into the mensa in an altar stone.

On this second look, it appears what Canon 1237 §2 and Built of Living Stones are saying the same thing, in different ways. Therefore, relics are still allowed to be incorporated into the altar as long as they are not placed on the altar or set into the mensa of the altar stone. There is nothing wrong with placing the relic under the altar. According to Erich, this is what his parish did in 2010 - a practice that follows the norms given in the liturgical books.


#17

[quote="sedonaman, post:2, topic:292970"]
The only indication that I am aware of is that He was above average height. The source of this estimate is the Gospel mentioning some being able to see Him over the crowds. So I'd figure a head above average for the day.

[/quote]

On the contrary, since Zacchaeus had to climb up into a tree to be able to see Him that implies that He probably wasn't unusually tall. Being ahem on the short side myself, I know that you can still fairly easily spot unusually tall people in a crowd.

In any event, it's not like we've found His bones to be able to tell His height. Nor is it recorded anywhere. So no, altars absolutely are not cut to His height. Or indeed to any standard measurement.


#18

Thank you all for your contributions,very enlightening.Even though some of my questions seem a touch off from reality or the norm,I think it’s always best to ask the question and perhaps learn something new or to see something from a different perspective.

God bless,

JMJ


#19

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