Sometime ago I learned of a carpenter who made a portable altar of wood, rather like a suitcase, with wings that folded out and drawers, and an embedded altar stone. I contacted the carpenter and he said he would make one for me, were I to supply the altar stone. A priest reader here sent a stone, the perfect size. The project began.
Today, the altar arrived. Holy cow!
The ULTIMATE priest gift.
Here is the contact information.
It came in a fitted vinyl case lined with felt, to protect the wood.
This is what it looks like, closed up.
The wood is African Mahogany and the finish is durable lacquer. I am instructed that a dry or damp cloth works best, but polish can be used.
The top lid swings up and back and then two “wings” fold out on the sides.
First, tug open the side drawers, which are held in place by magnets so they won’t slide open when moving. Clever!
Use the drawers as supports for the side “wings” which, even without the drawers as supports, are sturdy.
In a drawer, I found a crucifix which sits atop the central, back lid, or wing.
I pulled out my set of portable altar cards provided by SPORCH. More on that, below.
I also got out my small format edition of the Missale Romanum of St. John XXIII, which the nice people of St. John Cantius sent to me. HERE
The whole thing folded out.
At the base of the center, main lid-wing, there is a notched ledge, on which altar cards could be placed.
Were I the carpenter, I would quiz the priest to find out if he wanted two long slots or grooves cut into the top surface near the back edge of the side-wings so that the two altar cards for the Lavabo and the Last Gospel could be placed in them, upright. The carpenter might do well to team up with SPORCH. As it is, the notch-rest is not quite long enough to hold the SPORCH cards. Smaller cards would fit just fine, of course. This is not a huge problem. But a groove in the side-wings would offer some flexibility in the choice of altar cards. The grooves should be long enough also to take the requiem card set, which is slightly larger. Of course, for the Novus Ordo, this wouldn’t be a problem.
Now I have to find suitable, light candle sticks. I suppose that little glass votive candles would work. I must find, or have made, altar cloths. A classic altar needs three, the top one being longer. Then I must round up a vestment or two. I think what I need for this is reproduction of the white and red reversible chaplain’s vestment, Roman style. If I could find someone to make these, I would want also a reversible in purple and black, and maybe also gold and green. Rose?
My mind is also starting to think about clips for altar cloths, to hold them if there is wind.
Also, I need a small wooden lectern that will fit into a side drawer. If only I could find a miniature version of this one I use for my daily review of the Martyrologium Romanum.
In any event, this holy contraption is amazing. You can tell that it was a work of real devotion, as befits a man who wants to be “St. Joseph’s apprentice”.
He wrote to me,
This altar was made completely by hand with St. Joseph guiding my hand. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it. Please pray for many orders and the success of my business.
St. Joseph’s Apprentice