Portable Altars from St. Joseph's Apprentice

Many thanks to St. Jospeh's Apprentice for their wonderful work. Based in Idaho, this professional craftsman by the name of Rick Murphey makes the most beautiful custom portable altars available today. His work must be commended. I urge the faithful to consider gifting their parishes with one of these as they do come in handy. Portable altars are useful for a variety of extraordinary circumstances where outdoor or indoor Masses may be necessitated, such as certain parish outings, camping trips, scout events, and even special Masses in nursing homes or at the bedside of the sick and dying. For army chaplains they are useful for field Masses and battlefield liturgies. 

Having an altar at all times is of immense importance. The portable altar provides a worthy space and arrests the eye and points to the sacredness of the Mass. It therefore helps to illuminate the moment and create a sacred space out of a vacuous space, even if it is an outdoor setting, even in the rugged mountains or on a pile of ammo boxes in combat. It adds to the visual effect of the Mass. Indeed, the essence of the portable altar's effect is the enclosure of space, the vision of the priest celebrating upon a consecrated altar stone on a table set apart for the sacred function of Mass. 

Portable altars are not easy to make. The finished project is a work of art, the product of a seasoned finish carpenter. The finished result is a complex harmony of interrelated pieces. Function is not therefore the only essential feature of a portable altar; necessarily it must also be beautiful. 

Each custom altar displays a similar form and pattern of design. The version above was made of Spanish cedar, trimmed in walnut and rosewood. A vintage altar stone was incorporated in the mensa. Below is a custom full-sized example made of cherrywood, a very elegant and befitting altar. 

God bless this wonderful apostolate of St. Joseph's Apprentice and may it continue to flourish and contribute to liturgical arts across North America and beyond. 

I have heard it said the most reverent Masses have been celebrated in trenches on battlefields. These portable altars provide for reverent Masses. They are not too heavy, can be transported with ease and have comfortable handles. They can be carried on airplanes and transported in cars. They pack well and carry well. Custom orders can include some special requests such as certain religious images or monograms. The portable altar is not reduced to a piece of luggage. It is a sacred thing that adds to the sacredness of Mass. It opens beautifully and can sit sturdily atop virtually anything, making holy the place and moment that sacrifice is offered.    

Below is a sampling with different variations...

In the photo below an altar stone is consecrated by the Archbishop of San Francisco. 

It takes 52 pieces to make a portable altar.

For those interested in more information or to order an altar, please see here.  


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