The sanctuary, containing the high altar and tabernacle, is the center of worship in the church.
The High Altar
The High Altar was moved forward to its present position as part of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The church is fortunate that the old altar was refitted for its new position, making use of all the original pearly gray Bianco marble pieces. The base is carved with a Chi Rho symbol, the monogram from Greek for Jesus Christ, Son of God. Flanking the central part of the base are four stipes (small columns without bases or capitals) of the same material carved with Romanesque motifs. We are very fortunate to have the original crucifix and candlesticks in the position for which they were intended.
The word tabernacle is from the Latin for tent and refers to the tent that sheltered the Ark of the Covenant before the construction of Solomon’s Temple. For centuries, it has been the practice to reserve a consecrated host for the sick in the tabernacle. Following the second Vatican Council it was briefly moved from its position of prominence on the high altar. Today, our tabernacle is once again in its original position.
With the repositioning of the altar the tabernacle was fitted with a new base providing a small shelf space for placing the Eucharistic vessels as they are put into and removed from the tabernacle. The front of this base is decorated with a mosaic inlay cross in gold set in a deep red mosaic circle. The Greek lettering “IC XC NIKA” declares “Jesus Christ, Son of God, victorious”.
The tabernacle is constructed of steel. Inside it is faced with gold plated bronze and outside with highly burnished bronze. During the year it is frequently draped with a cloth in the liturgical color of the day, matching the color of the vestments worn by the priest.