When Romanitas Reigned in the Liturgical Movement

While "reigned" might be an exaggeration, there was a time when Romanitas held significant sway within the 20th century Liturgical Movement, especially with regard to the arrangement of the altar. In the 1930's the A. Gross Candle company of Baltimore, which must have been doing fairly well for itself as they had two of the few coloured ads I have seen within Liturgical Arts Quarterly, published coloured images of two altars which featured their own products -- though it is the altars which are of primary interest. 

The first shows the altar of the chapel of the Georgetown Preparatory School in Garrett Park, Maryland. The chapel features beautiful green and white marbles. The altar is set upon three steps, as is traditional, and includes a tester (canopy) and dossal curtain of black, gold and white. 

A slightly closer look:

The altar itself is fairly simple and straightforward in its construction and design -- and thus also very Roman -- perfectly suited to be covered by an antependium. (And if you would like to see the present version of the chapel, you can see it here.)  The pattern and colours of the dossal curtain set a unique and striking backdrop.

The second altar they feature has a more contemporary feel, what with its wooden altar and brick walls, coming from St. Anselm's Priory in Washington, D.C.

The basic ordering is thoroughly Roman of course -- with some 'northern gothic' intermixed. Here again we seem the same basic features of the altar: three steps, tester and dossal, as well as a classic arrangement of candlesticks, cross and tabernacle. To either side of the altar stand two larger candlesticks which function, essentially, as the "standards" or "candelabra magna" seen in so many Roman churches. 

Of the two, my own preference tends toward the first because of its overall design and materials, but both altars present very good and noble examples in their own right and serve as good models for our own time. 

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