“What’s wrong with this picture?”

Our friend John Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus posted a photo worth a thousand words, asking

“What’s wrong with this picture?”

I believe this is in the Basilica of the XII Apostles, near P.za Venezia.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Will says:

    The Lucite Ambo?

  2. The credence table has been put in front of the altar!

  3. Thomas says:

    Even for the versus populum type, there is such a thing as trying too hard.

  4. Derik says:

    It appears that the movable, OF altar was placed on the EF’s first step (standing on its toes). Perhaps a very tall priest will offer Versus Deo Mass using the OF altar.

  5. Celebrating versus populum, the priest would have Our Lord just sitting there right over his shoulder. Bleh.

  6. Martin says:

    Is it that there should not be flowers on the altar during Advent, except Gaudete Sunday?

  7. There is a “table” in front of the Altar on the steps blocking it.

  8. A Random Friar says:

    It could be worse…the people that make those transparent ambos also make transparent altars and credence tables. They could’ve had a set!

  9. Calleva says:

    And why are there only two candles on the High Altar? Far too many things wrong with this photo! The perspex ambo reminds me of the wipe-clean bookstands used by cooks. Yuk, yuk and thrice yuk to have one in church.

  10. Stephen says:

    Why would they do that??

  11. Cornelius says:

    Principal problem: poor photo lighting.

    Secondary problems: tacky ambo, bizarrely placed versus populum altar.

  12. Alessandro says:

    I am ashamed, because that is the franciscan church of “Santi XII apostoli” in Rome, a beautiful Basilica, the HQ of the Minister General of my Order. I am a conventual franciscan and sadly I know all too well that terrible setting. The “table” is actually the altar they use for the weekly celebrations. The trasparent thing is supposed to be the ambo!!! I know that it is incredible, but the ideology agaist the mass “with the back to the people” led to such ugly setting with a “versus populum” mini-altar on the steps of a lateral chapel. And it is very unconfortable too when you have to get squeazed in between to celebrate mass.
    Sorry, Sorry, Have mercy, and help those confreres!!!

  13. Brendan says:

    “There is a “table” in front of the Altar on the steps blocking it.”


  14. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    They haven’t yet removed the tabernacle to a side chapel, nor demolished the original altar so as to make Mass with the priest’s back facing the people impossible for future generations. These guys are soooo behind the times.

  15. paul says:

    I think the problem is the lucite ambo and the table in front of the altar.

  16. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    No candles or candlesticks. Period. They got nuttin for us.

  17. Tina in Ashburn says:

    It looks like the further one gets from the wall, the more contemporary things are…hmmmm. Putting it diplomatically, the term ‘eclectic’ comes to mind. :-)

  18. Megan says:

    “There is a “table” in front of the Altar on the steps blocking it.”

    My thoughts exactly!

    “It appears that the movable, OF altar was placed on the EF’s first step (standing on its toes). Perhaps a very tall priest will offer Versus Deo Mass using the OF altar.”

    Also an excellent point – it’s impossible for even an ad orientem OF Mass to be celebrated here.

  19. Charivari Rob says:

    “What’s wrong with this picture?”

    Besides the lucite ambo and the crease in the altar linens?

    No room for liturgical dancers.

    No broadband access.

    No Oregon Catholic Press carton to prop up the altar cards.

    No charger port for Father’s cordless mic.

    Can’t be too sure from this photo, but it doesn’t look like the ceiling is high enough to bother tying petitions to helium balloons and releasing them.

    Concelebration by more than a dozen or so priests might get cramped.

    On the other hand, if this were in that nice parish Father Z. posted about a week or two ago, that marble railing would be a handy place to put down the coffee and doughnuts you bring into Mass from the parish hall.

    That carpet runner between the two altars looks like it might conceal a trapdoor to a crocodile pit. It might be the new negative reinforcement program from the Father Z. Institute for Correct Liturgical Practices – Say the Black, Do the Red, Or Else!

  20. Fr B OFM Conv says:

    Not that I agree with the seting, but to inform your readers that, that is not the High Altar, it is one of many side altars in our Basilica. The Blessed Sacrament has been reposed there long before the changes of Vatican II, and it is the Altar for weekday Masses not Sunday. However the real High Altar, like many minor Basilicas in Rome does have the Table of Sacrifice (!) in front of it as well. There are, if memory serves me, about another 6 side altars where Mass ad orientem can be celebrated, if only they take the flower pots off of them! Don’t be too nasty to us Conventuals… we are trying, we do still have the faith, and many friars are celebrating the EF beautifully!

  21. Michael Tait says:

    When all is said done, the Mass here is celebrated correctly and reverently. In particular, the weekday morning 8 am Mass is usually very attentively celebrated by a friar who frequently says the Roman Canon. He also preaches well on the Sunday at 6.30 pm.

  22. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Maybe it’s been designed as a very small(standing?) Communion rail so the priest doesn’t have to move too far from the altar?

  23. Rick says:

    It’s quite simple, this is the result of a schizophrenic or split personality disorder, the desire to have the past as it was and the present as it is because the mind cannot “make up its mind” about how the form of religion is best expressed, it is the failure to conclude in fear of repercussion, the desire to please over the desire to be true, it is confusion about the ontology of the Vertical over the ontology of the Horizontal in Spiritual matters, whether Grace descends or is permutated through men. It is the battle of whether God exists in the Tabernacle, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, or whether He is distributed among men. It is the question of whether God is best served by man through the Holy Sacrifice offered to Him specifically through His priest or whether He is served by His people through the medium of His priest. This altar in the photograph has its legs undercut so that it is fitted to the steps upon which in later days the priest said, “Introibo ad altare Dei,” -” I will go to the altar of God.” ” Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.”- “Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight against an unholy people, rescue me from the wicked and deceitful man.” There is really nothing to fear. You can see in the photo that one could probably flick the wooden altar table right down the steps with one’s index finger, it seems so tremulous anyway. Extraordinary and Ordinary Form are One,they can both be offered at the High Altar. People don’t need to gape at the priest, they need to
    “A-gape” at God.

  24. Willebrord says:

    While I agree it’s terrible, I’m personally happy that it doesn’t look like it’s permanent–no smashed altar (and no moving everything forward, either).

    Now what does that ambo remind me of? Not that glass of water I had this morning… might have been a glass chalice.

  25. Nick says:

    Does anyone know if this is the altar of St. Jospeh of Cupertino?

  26. Tomás López says:

    Does Italy have its own version of the “Americans with Disabilities Act”? If so, perhaps a group of portly priests (who can’t fit between the two structures to offer the sacrifice in either direction) or tall priests (who don’t have enough room for a decent genuflection) could bring a class action lawsuit to have the freestanding altar removed . . .

  27. RBrown says:

    Does anyone know if this is the altar of St. Jospeh of Cupertino?
    Comment by Nick

    I think it is. I should be more sure because I attended the evening mass there many, many times–but I’ve been gone from Rome for ten years.

  28. Fr B OFM Conv says:

    Does anyone know if this is the altar of St. Jospeh of Cupertino?

  29. Fr B OFM Conv says:

    Does anyone know if this is the altar of St. Jospeh of Cupertino?
    Comment by Nick

    No, it definitely is not. It is the 3rd side altar as you leave the sacristy, the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament.

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