Altar of Sacrifice
All that We Have: The New Altar in the Daily Mass Chapel, Part 1
Published on March 30-31, 2013 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
The new altar of sacrifice in the Saint Andrew’s Daily Mass Chapel stands 38 inches tall; its front and back span 44 inches, its sides 32 inches. It was made out of cherry wood to complement the presider’s chair and ambo that were built by William Fister (1941-2005) for the Church when it was dedicated in 2001. These furnishings were moved to the chapel in Easter 2013 so that they might be used every day for the celebration of the Mass.
A large piece of polished Bedford stone sits on the mensa, the altar’s tabletop. This single slab of Indiana limestone is 26 inches long, 38 inches wide, and at least two inches thick. It symbolizes Christ, “the stone rejected by the builders [that] has become the cornerstone” (Acts 4:11; cf. Ps. 118:22; Mt. 21:42; Mk. 12:10; Lk. 20:17; 1 Pt. 2:7). Five Greek crosses were engraved on its surface, one at each of the four corners and a fifth at the center. These crosses signify the five wounds of the Crucified Christ.
The altar was built by Michael Detherage (1956-), a member of Saint Lawrence, the parish in Lawrenceburg that was once Saint Andrew’s mission church in Anderson County. Mike had made all the furnishings for the sanctuary of his home parish: the chairs for the presider and the deacon, the altar and the ambo. He is in the process of building the ‘twin’ of our altar for the Daily Mass Chapel of Saint Lawrence. Both are based on a design that I had drawn up in the Fall of 2012. This design was inspired by the presider’s chair built by Bill Fister and incorporates the arches that are found both at the bottom of that chair and in the windows of our Church.
The ten arches on the four sides of the altar serve as the niches for the images of Christ and His saints. Three niches are found on the front as well as on the back; there are two on each of the other sides. The images enshrined in them were designed by me and my brother, Ivan-Lee F. Zamora (1991-). Each image, painted on a gold background like the icons of old, was airbrushed with lacquer paint on a steel sheet panel by Gregorio Cruz, an artist neighbor of my family in the Philippines.
The image of Christ the High Priest occupies the central niche at the front of the altar. He wears a bishop’s pallium and red vestments, and holds in His hands the Sacred Host and the Precious Chalice of His Holy Sacrifice. He is flanked by the two saints who have been the parish’s patrons in its history. On the left is Saint Peter of Verona (1206-1252), the Dominican protomartyr in whose honor the parish was named after from its foundation in 1858 until the consecration of the first Church in 1893. He is dressed in a friar’s habit and bears on his back the dagger of his martyrdom. On the right is the apostle Saint Andrew (died ca. 60-70), our present patron since 1893. As the protokletos, the “first called” among the disciples, he has his face turned towards Christ the Lord and carries in his hands the x-shaped cross of his martyrdom, the same cross that now bears his name.
The back of the altar faces the west and features in its arched alcoves the patrons of the three missions that have been entrusted to the care of Saint Andrew’s throughout its history. In the central niche is the image of the Blessed Virgin clothed in a white dress and a blue mantle, with cherubim and a crescent moon at her feet (cf. Rev. 12:1). She is the patroness of Saint Mary’s, the parish’s mission in Perryville since 1989. On the left is the figure of Saint Lawrence of Rome (ca. 225-258) dressed in a deacon’s red dalmatic and standing on top of the fiery gridiron of his martyrdom. He is the patron of Saint Lawrence in Lawrenceburg, the Anderson County mission that was elevated in 1993 to a full-fledged parish. On the right is the figure of Saint Nicholas of Myra (270-343) vested as a bishop of the Christian East for the Divine Liturgy. He was the patron of Saint Nicholas, the old church that stood on Mercer County’s Rose Hill from 1894 to 1949.
The two other sides of the altar present images of the patrons of the parishes that had served Saint Andrew’s before it became a parish. The niches that face the north side of the chapel feature Saint Augustine and Saint Rose. On the left is Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) who appears as a bishop holding a heart on fire for the Faith. He is the patron of Saint Augustine Church in Lebanon. On the right is Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617) who is seen wearing a crown of thorns and holding a cross and a bouquet of roses. She is the patroness of Saint Rose in Springfield, the proto-friary that founded our parish in 1858. The fourth side of the altar features the images of Saints Peter and Paul. On the left is the figure of Saint Peter (ca. 1 BC-ca. 67) holding the keys of the Kingdom entrusted to Him by the Lord (cf. Mt. 16:19), while on the right is the figure of Saint Paul (ca. 5-ca. 67) gripping the sword of his martyrdom. Their niches face the south side, the direction of the Danville parish named in their honor.