January 26, 2024
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v2.1 Reference

Altar and Church

Principles of Liturgy from Early Christianity

An altar is a place of sacrifice or an offering table as a place of worship for deities. Whether what Christians use in worship today may be an altar is a matter of dispute among the denominations. Since the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, the altar has been the focus of many redesigns of Catholic church rooms.

In doing so, one likes to orientate oneself on the early church. The Council refers to the "norm of the fathers". But how can this be reconciled with the widespread opinion that Christianity did not know any cult and no sacrifices in the beginning, but only love and sin feasts, celebrated in house churches? Only at a late stage, since the time of Emperor Constantine, did a real state cult with sacrifices, altars and magnificent sacred spaces develop, and the church still suffers from this historical ballast today. But is this really true? Or are these not rather clichés that need to be critically questioned? This volume cuts a few paths through the thicket and arrives at results that are as surprising as they are stimulating.

About the Author

Stefan Heid is Rector of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology, Rome.


"Heid is extremely meticulous in this work. The evidence he supplies is quite simply overwhelming. His command of the material is probably second to none. Altar and Church: Principles of Christian Liturgy is both necessary and magisterial."—Emery de Gaal, Mundelein Seminary


500 Pages
$45.00 USD

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