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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 of strict obligation that every altar upon which the Holy Sacrifice is offered should be covered with three linen cloths. The first two must be large enough to cover the entire table or upper surface; the third, or outer one, must cover the latter two and hang down on both sides so as to touch the ground. In case three cannot be had, it is permitted to fold the under cloth in two, and thus make up the complement. Before these cloths are used they must be blessed by the bishop, or by one to whom he delegates his power in this matter. Three are used in honor of the Blessed Trinity (Gavantus, p. 115), as well as to commemorate the linen cloths in which our Lord’s Body was wrapped when laid in the sepulchre (Kozma, 32). They are mentioned as far back as the fourth century, at which period they were not spread on the altar until after the exclusion of the catechumens—i.e., before the Offertory (ibid.)








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