Bishop Baker’s Birmingham Brick By Brick Building

A nice note came from a reader about the expanded use of the so-called "Benedictine Arrangement" of a versus populum altar, that is, placing the candles in a straight line, three and three, and the Crucifix in the center with the Corpus toward the priest.  When the local bishops is celebrating, there can be a 7th candle at the center.

Pope Benedict, before becoming Pope, wrote about the important of ad orientem worship stressing the significance of the people with the priest facing the liturgical (not necessarily geographical (East).  Something of the impact of this orientation of worship is accomplished by placing the Crucifix between the people and priest so that IT, not the priest or congregation, remains the focus.


Today, January 17th, 2009, Bishop Robert Baker of the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama held a pro-life Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham.  There was a march shortly thereafter.  I could not help but notice that on the altar, there were six candles and a Crucifix in the center.  Next to the Crucifix was the seventh candle.  I took some photos from before and after the Mass and would like to give them to you.


Brick by brick!

Thank you Bishop Baker!


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  1. Michael Thoma says:

    What is the significance of the corpus facing the priest? Why not have it face the people or (Angelicene Arrangement [Mother Angelica]) have a dual corpus?

  2. Steve says:

    This is the way Opus Dei priests always say the Novus Ordo.

  3. Tom Ryan says:

    Dual corpus? That could be met with all sorts of profound comments

  4. From what I hear, it was Fr. Kevin Bazzel who made the arrangements for the seventh candle.

  5. Dual corpus?
    I remember these from my youth.

  6. pax vobiscum says:

    Our new pastor recently placed a crucifix on our altar, as in the photo. He explained that there are certain prayers of the Mass which the priest, per the rubrics, must say facing the crucifix. Since priests began facing the people, these prayers have been said with the priest turning his back on the crucifix. In my opinion, placement of a crucifix on the altar is probably only a partial solution, as the priest still turns his back on the tabernacle. Yet, this appears to be a step in the right (liturgical East) direction. God bless you!

  7. Maynardus says:

    I got home from work on Wednesday night just in time to catch the beginning of the prolife Mass at the National Basilica on EWTN. Seeing all of the seminarians processing-in in cassock and surplice I had a momentary thrill of “hope and change” (traddie-style). Perhaps, I mused, the altar will be arranged for such a high-profile televised Mass in the Benedictine style…

    And then I remembered who the Archbishop of Washington was. And then I saw the legions upon legions of concelebrants garbed in polyester, and I knew that my hopes were in vain.

    (Sigh) it truly is brick-by-brick, and until some of the BIG bricks start arriving at our jobsite we have to be patient and support the courageous priests who are following Pope Benedict’s lead in rearranging their altars, celebrating the O.F. ad orientem, and availing themselves of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum to introduce the E.F. into their parishes.

    I’m not bashing anyone, but think how much good an Archbishop Burke could do in Washington or New York. Until exceptional bishops are appointed to more of our major sees it will be up to the parish priests and the laity to help reorient things in the direction the Pope is leading us.

  8. Rompicollo says:

    We were truly blessed to have Bishop Baker for the time we had him (I am from the Diocese of Charleston). Hopefully our new Bishop will be just as awesome.

  9. Tiago says:

    I had a chance to see Bishop Baker when I was a exchange student in Charleston. I was very happy to see that (my frist american ) Mass, very happy, somewhat traditional. One week before I came back to Brazil, to my great happiness, Bishop Baker was just walking the streets and waves at me, like he recognized me from that Mass!
    That guy is good.

  10. Fr Smith says:

    It should be noted that the priest Bp Baker put in as rector of the Cathedral as he left Charleston, Fr Gregory Wilson, has implemented not only the Benedictine arrangement on the altar, but also has in a short amount of time started the Extraordinary Form as well as improved the Ordinary Form liturgy 1000-fold. He has also overseen a project turning the crypt of the bishops from a storeroom into a beautiful chapel for the new bishop to vest in. Mgr Robert Guglielmone of the diocese of Rockville Center, NY, was announced today as the new Bishop of Charleston. Please pray that he may be a friend to tradition, especially to the growing ranks of young clergy in South Carolina who are devotees of the Latin Mass.

  11. Maynardus says:

    oops – I substituted “Archbishop Burke” for “Bishop Baker” above – trying to do too many things at once. But the thought is the same, we must pray for high caliber bishops to be appointed to our major archepiscopal sees. They should set the tone in orthodoxy and liturgy, and leave the media, politicians, business leaders, and celebs in no doubt of their (100% Catholic) positions on the issues of the day.

  12. BruceL says:

    I’m getting married at St. Paul in June. This is great news!

  13. Happy wife says:

    There has been for some time a large crucifix on the altar at our cathedral, facing the priest. I’m not sure if it was put there by the bishop, rector, or parochial vicar, but it is beautiful. Other preists in some of the parishes have followed suit. Brick by brick.

  14. Joe says:

    I am pretty sure that Father Bazzel had something to do with this. I have seen him say mass on a feast day with the same arrangement (minus the 7th candle).

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