Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In a Christian church, the top or the consecrated portion of an altar; the altar proper, or mensa.
- n. A name for one of the wooden tables which were substituted for the old altars in England in the seventeenth century, and used for the communion where the old altars had been destroyed by the Roundheads. At first this table was placed by the reformers against the eastern wall in the position of the old stone altar. This position gave umbrage to the Puritans, who held that it was characteristic of the Church of Rome. Cromwell therefore caused the altar-table to be removed to the middle of the chancel, and to be surrounded with seats for the communicants. At the restoration it was almost universally replaced in its ancient position. When used it is covered with a white linen cloth.
“Now and then a mouse ventured out of the dark, to feast on the contents of the offering-bowls on the altar-table.”
“I dreamed that I was standing inside the communion rails of a church — I on one side of the altar-table, and the clergyman, with his surplice and his prayer-book, on the other.”
“(SB)  This altar-table was set up in this doorway because women were not permitted to go farther.”
“It differed from the rest in having the upper end closed in with a neat thatched wall, against which, in time of need, the altar-table may stand, with candles and rough prints or figures of the Virgin and Saints.”
“On her feast day the shrine is placed beside the Communion rail; at other times it is kept within the very beautiful altar-table, made of one piece of pure white marble.”
“An altar-table, also of camphor-wood, and painted red, stood in front of the”
“Mrs. Griffith, and designed by Scott, projects beyond the altar-table on each side in a way that is unusual and not altogether pleasing.”
“Behind two tall candlesticks stood an altar-table which, being unfolded, revealed three compartments, each with a picture, painted by Andrea del Sarto, the once honored guest of Francis.”
“But Jacqueline frowningly noticed that the saint's life lay idle -- conspicuously, though fittingly, on the altar-table -- while a manuscript of the Queen of Navarre suspiciously accompanied the jester when he sought the pleasant nook selected for reading and conversation.”
“But if it can be done conveniently, the things in which they are found are to be burned, and the ashes put in the sacrarium, as was said of the scrapings of the altar-table, here above.”
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