Altar(ed) Memories

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Posted by murrisk on January 08, 2001 at 04:52:57:

The main altar in Castlebar church had three levels. Our Lady's and St. Joseph's had one. Altar boys knelt on the lowest level and the bells were kept on the second level. During the course of the mass the lectionary, on a heavy brass stand, had to be moved from one side of the altar to the other. Another item was moved in the opposite direction (symetry?). The cruets, bowl of water and towel were laid out on a small table across from the statues of the Holy Family, in the smaller of the two arches separating Our Lady's altar from the main altar. Under Fr. T. Shannon's guidance, altar boys were instructed never to turn their backs on the altar. After each activity you bowed, turned to the altar and descended the steps. At the bottom you again turned to the altar and returned to your place. (The process was reversed when ascending the altar). In the late 1950's(?)the red-maroon drape behind the main altar was replaced by a smokey grey cloth. Around the same time Our Lady's altar was renovated and a beautiful mosaic was created. The Annunciation was depicted on the side nearest the sacristy; the Assumption was depicted on the side nearest the main altar. The side walls of the main altar and St. Joseph's altar were unadorned but the archways separating the two altars had a mosaic similar to the one in the arches separating Our Lady's altar from the main altar. The main altar rails were of white marble supported on legs of darker marble with two brass gates in the middle. The rails were covered by a white cloth held in place by brass fittings. I think the cloth was turned down before communion and turned up afterwards(?) There were two sanctuary lamps - one mounted on each of the pillars at the end of the main altar rails. A dark wooden batten surround was added to the walls of the church around the same time under the direction of Fr. Nohilly. I think its main purpose was to elimate the staining/scuffing of the walls by people leaning against them. At the back of the church, the choir loft was faced by a white railings over three arches in which the door(s?) were set. There was a round faced clock over the main doors.

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