Saturday, November 07, 2009

Different Forms of Altars as Historically Seen in St. Joseph's Cathedral, Sioux Falls

We recently shared news about a renovation that is taking place at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota -- a post which stirred up some very interesting debate and discussion surrounding the specific plans for the high altar and its new ciborium.

On a related note, as it concerns the high altar of this cathedral that is, one of our readers sent in some historical photographs of the various high altars that have adorned the sanctuary of this cathedral over the years.

These photos provide some interesting views of different forms and styles of altars within the context of one and the same building; accordingly they also provide a vehicle for the more general consideration of different forms of altars found within our tradition. Beyond this, they may also be understood as showing forth some of the trends and movements that were to be found within the 20th century Liturgical Movement as it related to church furnishing.

The original high altar

The second high altar

The third high altar; a ciborium magnum

This photograph shows the ciborium and altar rather better in the context of an ordination

Comparisons such as these certainly invite us to consider the various forms of the altar that we have seen within our liturgical tradition. Those interested in this sort of subject may be interested in re-reading: The History and Forms of the Christian Altar. Part 1: The Early Christian and Early Roman Forms. (The series is as yet unfinished, but not forgotten.)

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