The Altar

On the afternoon of September 25, 1961, the altar of the new Parish Church was installed. There it now sits, firmly rooted to the ground while quite literally, the roof was built over it. Thus, actually and symbolically, we built our Church around the altar. 

The Altar area. 

A permanent altar is traditionally made of stone. Our altar is green granite quarried and hewn in the Swiss Alps. It is rough-hewn, sturdy and massive, yet graceful of line, bespeaking in its strength and beauty "that rock of Christ." On the top of the table, five small crosses are incised in the stone. These are symbolic of the five wounds of Christ, through which He shed His blood for us in the Crucifixion.

On the face of the supporting pedestal is a large "Chi Rho." These are two Greek letters which look like the English letters "X"  and "P." The Greek letter "Chi" is equivalent to our English letters "Ch" and the Greek letter "Rho" is equivalent to our English "R." Together they form the first letters of the Greek word for our Lord's Holy Name, "Christos" or Christ in English. This is a sacred monogram that has been used in ancient catacombs and other early places of Christian worship. It has been an important symbol of our Lord in Church history ever since.

Leading up to the Altar are three steps — the steps of Faith, Hope and Charity and from the summit of this ascent the Altar dominates the Church and becomes the focus of all attention.

The Tabernacle

Tabernacle behind the Altar. 

Just  behind the Altar is the tabernacle that houses the Sacrament wich is reserved for the sick. It is shaped in the form of the tabernacle "tent" in the wilderness when Moses led his people out of Egypt and the Lord "tabernacled "dwelt" among them. On the doors of the tabernacle appear the loaves and fishes, symbolic of the Eucharist. Hovering over the roof is the Dove, symbolic of God the Holy Spirit, who descended upon our Lord at His Baptism in the form of a dove. 

The Christus Rex

The Christus Rex that hangs over the St Martin altar.

The chief symbol in every sanctuary should be of the Resurrection of Christ. It is the Resurrection of our Lord which is the chief source of Good News.

Close examination reveals that Christ is not "fixed" to the Cross by nails, the Cross serves only as a background — Christ reigns free of the Cross for He has risen and transcends it.

It is important to note that this is a symbol, neither an image or a portrait. There is little attempt by the artist to an accurate portrayal of our Lord. Here in one great symbol, the artist has carved a sermon in wood. 

The Great East Window

The Great East Window at St Martin.

This thick stained glass window forms the eastern wall of the Church. The chunks of glass are set in concrete, representing a revival of an ancient window art which flourished in Europe long before the development of leaded glass in the Middle Ages. This particular window was created in Chartres, France by M. Gabriel Loire, the leading artist in this type of window. He also designed and created the two similarly constructed Chapel windows.

The artist had three requirements: 1) because the faces east, dark colors were necessary to block intolerable glare; 2) should not detract from the Christux Rex and the Altar; 3) the design must be abstract and incorporate symbolic images of the Holy Eucharist and the Patron, St Martin. 

The Pulpit and Lectern

On either side of the Altar, the Pulpit and Lectern are dignified by their own canopies which are connected to the great baldachin over the Altar, thus linking Word and Sacrament. On the front of the Lectern is the figure of St Jerome who was the first to translate the Bible into the language of the people. The front of the Pulpit has the figure of St John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople in the 4th century. Also there is the figure of Bishop Phillips Brooks of Massachusetts.

Wooden figures carved and mounted to the Pulpit.

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