Side altars in old churches

What are the doors on side altars for? I am referring to the lockable door that is in the center of the side altar in old churches.

Did the priest use it in his private Mass (before V2 when there was no concelebration) to temporarily hold the Eucharist until he was finished with Mass, when he then transferred hosts he consecrated to the main tabernacle? Or was it to store the chalices and ciborium for Masses said at that altar?

Sorry if this is a brain dead question, I am really just curious about why old churches are setup the way they are. I didn’t think they would have three tabernacles, surely they only used the main altar for that?

In contemporary times, it is preferred (and usually practiced) to reserve the Sacrament in only one tabernacle in the Church. Previously, it was more common to have it also held in the tabernacles at side altars, too. So, yes, that’s a tabernacle door!

Many side altars contained tabernacles but rarely, if ever, actually used them. It was the custom to build altars containing tabernacles, in case the Blessed Sacrament for any reason (renovations, major cleaning, altar of repose, etc.) ever needed to be moved from the high altar or, in the cases of large cathedrals, from the Blessed Sacrament chapel.

My in-laws are more traditional than me and they think that the tabernacle being moved from the center of worship is THE REASON, there is little reverence for the Eucharist today.

My church keeps the Blessed Sacrament in a side chapel that is
prominent, but it disturbs me that the EME’s place the remaining Eucharist in the tabernacle. My feeling is that if our Pastor would do this reverently, i.e., cover the ciborium and process to the tabernacle, people will understand how important the Eucharist is.

…in modern times these altars have been seen to hold mostly empty coke bottles, cleaning materials and assorted church furniture and the odd statue…

in the past the side altar would be a devotional to Mary with a statue or picture, votive candles…

the other side altar maybe for the saint the church was dedicated to etc…

During the Easter Triduum (sp?) there is one time where they move the host to the side alter and there is adoration all through the night. I remember going there with my dad one time at 2 am.

But I have also seen masses pre-VII where there would be three priests saying mass at the same time, one at the high alter, and one on each of the side alters. Very beautiful pictures if you ask me. To be able to go to mass and see three masses at the same time.

the benedictine monks at clear creek in wagoner oklahoma have a low mass where they celebrate at multiple altars at once. depending on which side of the nave you are at, you’ll recieve from different priests.

I must agree to a large extent with your in-laws. It is IMHO unfortunate that the Eucharist and the Tabernacle is no longer at the most predominate part of the Altar.

We only go to our sons church building because the Tabernacle is “out of sight out of mind” IMHO. It is in a closit around the back of the Altar and can not be seen by anyone.:confused:

You need to come to Sydney, Mel - no ‘in the past’ about it here. It’s standard to have a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the side altar to the left (as you look at the High Altar) of the priest, and a statue of Our Lady at the side altar to the right. With trimmings (flowers, maybe a candle or two and so on)

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