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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

It is the general opinion of liturgical writers that our Divine Lord instituted the Blessed Eucharist on an ordinary wooden table, such as the Jews in his day were wont to eat from.

According to Martène (De Antiquis Eccl. Ritibus) there are yet preserved at Rome two wooden altars, one in the Church of St. John Lateran, the other in that of St. Pudentiana, upon which St. Peter used to say Mass during his Roman pontificate. The one in the latter-named church is now almost eaten up with age, but is preserved from utter destruction by being covered over with a stone casing. The following inscription appears upon it: “In hoc altari Sanctus Petrus pro vivis et defunctis ad augendam fidelium multitudinem, Corpus et Sanguinem Domini offerebat”—that is, “Upon this altar St. Peter used to offer the Body and Blood of our Lord, in behalf of the living and the dead, for increasing the number of the faithful.”

Pope Silvester (314) is said to have been the first who made stone altars obligatory; but some count this as doubtful, both because the decree so ordaining cannot be found among those attributed to this Pope, and because it is a well-known fact that altars of wood existed and were used after his time (Merati, 118). This much, however, is certain: that the Council of Epaon, held in the year 517, forbade any altars except those of stone to be consecrated. The same prohibition may be seen in several of the capitularies of Charlemagne (ibid.)








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