UPDATE REVIEW: The ULTIMATE Priest’s Gift – Super Cool Portable Altar

Do you remember when I posted about the coolest gift for a priest ever?  HERE  There is  a carpenter who makes portable altars of wood, rather like a suitcase, with wings that fold out, and an embedded altar stone.

St. Joseph’s Apprentice

After I received the first beautiful altar, which a priest friend immediately wanted to borrow, I offered some suggestions for improvements.  The carpenter took them to heart!

Another priest friend recently obtained his own, upgraded, portable altar.  He brought it over and I shot some photos.

In its case.


This one is considerably lighter than the one I have.  Different wood, I believe, and construction have taken quite a few pounds off.


The altar, closed up.


One of the improvements I recommended were slots to place altar cards.  He added them!


This version of the altar has a storage compartment under the element that holds the altar stone.

On the altar stone you can see a certificate of its provenance, that it was duly consecrated.  I checked out the sepulcher for relics.


This version utilizes supports for the “wings” that fold out.  Mine uses the drawers that pull out from the sides.  Mine doesn’t have the central compartment.

The only concern I have is that the surface has to be pretty level and even for these side supports to work.  Great if you are on a table.

The carpenter’s wife makes altar cloths to fit the altar!  That’s really helpful.  My altar didn’t come with cloths.


Not only are the cloths fitted, one of them is a cere cloth!  This is important with a wooden surface.

The Cross sits atop.  However, he added a little tongue/groove – one of the improvements I suggested – so that it will more easily stay in place.


My friend told me that there was a little book stand, too.  I didn’t see it.



Pretty spiffy.

I would like to swap mine out for this, or at least have some of the upgrades!

This might be the coolest priest gift ever.  It might also, in the future, be one of the most useful.

As the persecution of the Catholic Church mounts, it may be that we will lose a lot of our properties.  Priests might have to take things on the road.

Also, lay people might want to have one of these stored away. Stock up on altar wine, hosts, candles and squirrel them away with your altar.

Otherwise, leave it set up all the time as a home altar!  You could put a shelve over it for statues and hand a fine piece of religious art over it…. even a baldachin, much in the style of some home chapels I saw in palazzi in Rome.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a while. THIS is how one uses one’s gifts for the advancement of the Kingdom!

    Unfortunately, I think you’re spot on that someday soon Priests will need to use these.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Every newly ordained priests we know should get one of these, and a complete bug-out bag.

  3. comedyeye says:

    How much for one of these beauties?

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Yes, I admit, it is stunning. And with a mind to the future, indeed it will be, sadly, indispensable. God bless you Father Z.

  5. FL_Catholic says:

    When it comes time for that carpenter’s Judgement, and he is asked how he used the talents given to him, he will be able to point to this as evidence of his helping to promote the Kingdom of God. I pray that the Lord will bless this carpenter and his family abundently for this work they do!

  6. jacobi says:

    What about the compass? In my little part of the world where we live under a heavy lowering sky, (even in the current so-called heat wave , East if often hard to find.

  7. Mike says:

    My hopes and prayers:
    1. That I be able to give this fine cabinetmaker plenty of business.
    2. That he pass along his art to other faithful Catholic craftsmen.
    3. That he travel light against the likely persecution targeted for him. (Which will ostensibly have nothing whatever to do with altars. Satan’s minions weren’t born yesterday.)
    4.With FL_Catholic, that this carpenter’s soul, in the event, fly swiftly to Heaven.

  8. OlderCatholic says:

    My goodness this thing is BIG when it’s folded out! Nothing small about it! How heavy is it? I should follow the links and learn more.

  9. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    At the site linked in the post you will find sizes, weights, and prices.

  10. msc says:

    As a hobbyist carpenter, I am very impressed: beautiful design and work. Far be it for me to tell a master craftsman what to do, but your version, Father, seems the better solution to the problem of supporting the fold-out wings.

  11. Nicholas says:

    I’m sure a piece of burlap or cork could be included in the storage area so that the altar could be used on an uneven surface using the same principle as fixing a wobbly chair or table.

  12. MouseTemplar says:

    Once I find a job, it will be my goal to buy one of these for a newly ordained priest friend in thanksgiving. These are wonderful. I don’t think I saw the Mass cards on the website?

  13. Auggie says:

    I can envision a novel, akin to Greene’s THE POWER AND THE GLORY, about a character similar to the “Whiskey Priest” but a bit more sophisticated, “The Josh Cabernet Priest”… who travels post-SCOTUS underground America, serving the TLM with his superhero kit.

    [Nasty, but funny.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  14. cdet1997 says:

    It’s beautiful. And most important, there’s no doubt it pleases God.

    My only (minor) hangup is — as you say, Fr Z — in the near future this portable altar will be more valued for its practicality than its aesthetic qualities.

  15. andia says:

    You said we should stock up on hosts, candles and wine for this. Can Laity have hosts?

    Also do the altar stones have relics or do we need to get those separately?

  16. Martlet says:

    It is gorgeous. I wish we could afford one since I can think of a couple of priests to whom I would give it. As it is, I can admire from afar, but it does have me thinking about readiness. Could someone please give some practical guidelines on how we can best provide, should priests ever have to go underground?

  17. OlderCatholic says:

    “Can Laity have hosts?”

    Until they are consecrated they are just crackers, right? Unleavened bread made to certain specifications? I don’t see why having crackers should be forbidden to the Laity. Perhaps I do not understand the question.

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