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five feet four inches wide, having two recesses on one side, and another recess on the opposite side. The height of the caves was uneven, varying from seven to five feet. The only entrance was on the south side, and nothing could be seen without artificial light.
With this information Lady Paget obtained, through her son, Charles E. Paget (Medical Officer of Health at
Salford), the help of Mr. Wade to photograph the interior,
(Read January 20th, 1897.)
Altare gestatorium ; itinerarium ; levaticum ; portatile ; paratum; vel viaticum.
Altare quod portari potest; Autel mobile ou portatif.
NDER various circumstances and on
various occasions portable altars were used. They were used in private chapels, on journeys, on military expeditions, for private masses with the sick and dying ; and when the altars of churches and
chapels had not been consecrated. In the Roman Church they are now used where fixed altars have not been consecrated; e.g., at St. Peter's, Doncaster, there is one ; it is sewed
up in canvas, and laid upon the “ mensa of the great altar. There is a
sepulcrum” with a loose “seal” in the centre of the front part of the “mensa," waiting for the relics to be inserted at the consecration. At the
At the "Star of the Sea,” Hastings, a somewhat similar arrangement exists, but there the presence of the super-altar is not so evident, as the surface of the altar is made level by wood packing and covered.
The Rev. John Burke, of S. Philip's, Arundel, kindly informs me:
In the case of what are called portable altars, the relics should invariably be inserted and securely sealed up in the altar-stone itself.
Lübke says of them :
:In opposition to the monumental altars . . . are ... the portable altars, which were commonly used during the whole middle ages. Even in the early Christian times there existed portable altars (altaria gestatoria, viatica, itineraria, portatilia), which could be carried about, so that the offering of the mass could be performed in any place. In the eighth century, according to the testimony of Beda, the brothers Ewald had such altars in their missionary journeys. The like is related of the monks of S. Denis, who accompanied the army of Charlemagne in his crusade against the Saxons. The portable altars consist, as a rule, of a rectangular stone, generally of a precious stone-as marble, agate, porphyry, onyx, amethyst—in a frame of gold or gilt copper, set with precious stones, nielli or enamels. A wooden table forms the back, which is also richly adorned. The relics are under the stone slab, or enclosed in the corners of the frame. Sometimes the portable altars have wings, so that they take the form of diptychs or triptychs, the decoration of which consists either of ivory, of precious metals, or of paintings. If it was required to use larger relics, the portable altar received the form of a shrine, like a sarcophagus, which generally rests on the claws of animals. We find Romanesque portable altars in the Church of the Virgin at Treves (travelling altar of S. Willibrod), in the treasury of the Cathedral of Bamberg, in the Cathedral of Paderborn, two in the treasury of the Chapter-house of Melk; several in the archiepiscopal museum at Cologne, and in the royal treasury chamber at Hanover; also a number in the art chamber of the new museum at Berlin.Ecclesiastical Art in Germany, p. 135-6.
“ The finest collection of portable altar-stones) that I have ever seen is in the treasury attached to the Cathedral of Augsburg. There are specimens of various dates, some very elaborately ornamen and one is in a sort of case which served as a kind of superaltar. I had one which was found in the private chapel of an old Catholic family at Oundle. One side had a smooth surface, the other side and the edges were cased in metal work, which prevented it from lying flat on a table.”—J. MORRIS, S.J., F.S.A., The Antiquary, N. S., iä.
Portable altars were made of stone of various qualities, and were generally set in precious metal, and ornamented with precious stones. Du. Cange describes one, about a foot square, of marble, inlaid with gold, silver and precious stones. At Glastonbury Abbey, at the Dissolution, there was :
Item, a super-altar garnished with silver and gilt, and part gold, called the great saphure of Glausconburye.---Monastic Treasures. Abbotsford Club, p. 49.
In the Cathedral at York, in 1500, there were : A precious super-altar of jasper, adorned in the circumference with copper gilt.
Two super-altars of red marble, adorned with silver, of which one stands upon four feet of silver and the other without feet, upon which St. John celebrated when the Holy Spirit appeared to him, as appears in his legend. — York Fabric Rolls, Sur. Soc., p. 223.
In Westiniuster Abbey, in 1388, according to the inventory, there were there three super-altars
, two of which were of jasper, the third of inarble. And at a later date-1508-1511-there was included in a “capella portatilis” there, which included all things necessary for rigging up a portable chapel, 1 super-altar of alabaster.--Archæologia, vol. 52, p. 238 and 276.
In 1404, Walter Berghe left in his will to the Gild of S. George, York, one super-altar of“ blackgete.”—Test. Ebor. Sur. Soc. i., p. 333.
In 1444, John Brompton, merchant, Beverley, mentions in his will one superaltare of white marble, not consecrated.—Ibid. ii., pp. 96-104. Probably this was part of his stock-in-trade.
In 1503, Katherine, Lady Hastings, wife of William, first Lord H., of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, left to her sous two super-altars, one of white to Richard, one of jet to William.- Test. Vetus, p. 454.
In the 1rchäological Journal for 1847, Dr. Rock figures a beautiful specimen then in his possession. It is now at S. George's, Southwark.–J. MORRIS, S.J., F.S.A., Antiquary, N.S. ii.
All the above were specimens of a superior quality of stone. There were other super-altars, of which the stone at least was of a much poorer character. Among the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey of Calder was found, some years ago, a small slab, which had evidently been a superaltar. It is of red sandstone, measuring 10 inches in length, 7] inches in breadth, and 3-inch thick. surface are five crosses, arranged like those on an ordinary altar. There are no indications of a framework, or a place for relics ; doutless it was so fitted, and the relics would probably be enclosed by the frame. This stone contrasts strongly with the one figured by Dr. Rock. It is now fixed in an oak frame within the altar-rails of the church of Beckermet, It is cracked across the centre. (See copy of rubbing, p. 57.)
Among other notices of super-altars, the following occur :
1321. William Loncastre, Chaplain and Penitentiary of York Cathedral. . . . To be buried by the altar of S. Thomas Martyr, in the Cathedral. To the same altar one super-altar.-York Fabric Rolls, Sur. Soc., 158.
1392. Pro emendatione duorum super-altarium.—Ibid.
1360 (?). Inventory of altar of S. Nicholas. One superaltar of price 6s. 8d.-Ibid, p. 298.
1421. Agnes Stubbard, of Bury S. Edmunds. To her chaplain,
Portable Altar in Calderbridge Church, July 1. 1891. (Beckermet.)
vestments and one small super-altar. —Bury Wills and Invents., Cam. Soc., p. 3. 1512. Lady Jane Harper, York, widow of Alderman Harper.
Also I bequeathe unto the house of Rileston one superaltar.Test. Ebor. Sur. Soc. v., p. 38.
1522. Roger Rokeley, Esq. A messebooke, superaltare, etc., to his son.-Ibid, p. 159-161.
1535. Lady Elizabeth Bassett, of Fledburgh. To her son John, a chalice, the vestment, altar cloths, the superaltare, and all things belonging to the altar. — Ibid, p. 147 n.
Grostete, Bishop of Lincoln, ordered :-