Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/406

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ALTAR 364 ALTAR the cluirch of Sant' Ajiollinare Nuovo, at Ravenna. The interior of the Laleran Cibonum was covered with gold, and from the centre hung a chandeher (farus) "of purest gold, with fifty dolphins of purest gold weighing fifty pounds, with chains weighing twenty-five pounds". Suspended from the arches AiTAR Canopy of the ciborium, or in close proximity to the altar, were "four crowns of purest gold, with twenty dol- pliins, eacli fifteen pounds; and before the altar was a chandelier of gold, with eighty dolphins, in which pure nard was burned". Seven other altars were erected in the basilica, probably to receive the obla- tions; Duchesne notes the coincidence of the number of subsidiary altars witli the number of deacons in the Roman Church (Liber Pont., I, 172, and note 33, 191). This splendid canopy was carried away by .Iaric in 410, but a new ciborium was erected by the Emperor Valentinian III at the request of Pope Sixtus III (432-440). Only fragments of a few of the more ancient ciboria have been preserved to our time, but the ciborium of Sant' Apollinare in C'lasse, Ravenna (ninth century), reproduces their principal features. IV. Ch.vncel. — In his description of the Basilica of Tyre the historian Eusebius says (Hist. Eccl., X, iv) that the altar was enclosed "with wooden lattice-work, accurately wrought with artistic carv- ing", .so that it might be rendered "inaccessible to the multitude ". Tlic partition thus described, which separated the prcshyterium and choir from the nave, wa.s the canccUus or chancel. In a later age the name "chancel" came to be applied to the presbyterium itself. Portions of a number of ancient chancels have been found in Roman cliurches, and from re- constructions made with their help by archa-ologists a good idea of the early chancel may be obtained. Two of these restored cliancels, made from fragments found in the oratory of Equizio and in the Church of San Lorenzo, show the style of workmanship, which con.sisted of geometrical designs. Chancels were made of wood, stone, or metal. V. TiiK IcoNOSTASis.— Con.stantino the Great, ac- oonling to the "Liber Pontificalis ", erected in St. Peter's, in front of the jirrsbytmum, six marble columns adorned with vine-traceries. Whether these colimiim were originally connected by an architrave is uncertain, but in the time of Pope Sergius III (6S7-7U1) this feature existed. They seem to have served for no special object, and tlierefore were probably uitended to add dignity to the presbyterium. In the Church of the Resurrection at Jerusalem, also erectetl by Constantine, there were twelve similar columns, corresponding with the number of the Apostles. The iconostasis of the Greek Church and the rood-screen of Gotliic churches are evidently traceable to this ornamental feature of the two fourth-century basilicas. The iconostasis, like the chancel in the Latin Church, separated the presby- terium from the nave. Its original form was that of an open screen, but from the eighth centurj-, owing to the reaction against iconoclasm, it began to assume its present form of a closed screen decor- ated with paintings. A colonnade of six columns (seventli century) in the Cathedral of Torcello gives an idea of the colonnades in the Constantinian basilicas referred to. VI. The Dove; Tabernacle. — During the first age of Christianity the faithful were allowed, when persecution was imminent, to reserve the Eucharist in their homes. (See Arca.) This custom gradually disappeared in the West about the fourth century. The Sacred Hosts for the sick were then kept in churches where special receptacles were prejiared for them. Tliese receptacles were either in the form of a dove which hung from the roof of the ciborium or, where a ciborium did not exist, of a tower (the turris Eucharistica) which was placed in an armarium. In a drawing of the Xlll-cent. altar of the Cathedral of Arras an arrangement is seen which is evidently a reminiscence of the suspended dove in those coun- tries where the ciborium had disappeared: the Eu- charistic tower is suspended above the altar from a staff in the form of a crosier. The more ordinary receptacle for this purpose, up to the seventeenth century, was the armarium near, or an octagon- shaped tower placed on the Gospel side of, the altar. Tabernacles of the latter kind were generally of stone or wood; those of the dove class of some precious metal. Our present form of tabernacle dates from the end of the sixteenth century. VH. Consecration. — No special formula for the consecration of altars was in use in the Roman Church before the eighth century (Duchesne, Chris- tian Worship, tr. London, 1903, 403 sqq.). In sub- stance, however, what we understand by consecra- tion was practised in the fourth century. This original form of consecration consisted in the solemn transfer of the relics of a martyr to the altar of a newly erected church. The translation of the bodies of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius, made by St. Am- brose, is the firet recorded example of the kind. (See Ambrosi.oi B.silica.) But such translations of the mortal remains of martyrs were at this time, and long afterwards, of rare occurrence. Relics, howe^•er, by which we must understand objects from a martyr's tomb (the brandea mentioned above), were regarded with only a less degree of respect than the bodies of the martyrs tliemsehes, and served as it were to multiply the body of the saint (Duchesne, op. cit., 402, 405). This reverence for objects lussociated with a martyr gave rise to the custom of entombing sucli relics beneath the altars of newly erected churches, until it ultimately became the rule not to dedicate a church without them. An early example of this practice vv.os the dedication of the basilica Komana by St. Ambrose with piqnora of St. Peter and St. Paul brouglit from Rome (Vita .mbros., by Paulinus, c. xxxiii). St. Gregory of Tours (Lib. II, de Mirae., I, P. L., LXXI, Sis) mentions the dedication of the Church of St. Julian in his episcopal city with relics of that saint and of another. Wlien relics of the saints could not be procured, consecrated Hosts and fragments of the Gospels were sometimes used;