JUST TOO COOL: Unboxing my new portable altar – UPDATED!

UPDATE 11 March:

This just came in from a US Army chaplain!

I enjoyed the joy you showed in your recent posting after receiving your newest portable altar.  I ordered mine last year in preparation for the Afghan deployment that I’ll finish this summer.  I’m using a Pelican Air 1615, and I have the altar, the Missale Romanum, small candles, all of the linens that St. Joseph’s sent with the altar and accoutrements, my SPORCH cards, a couple of Latin-English guides from Ecclesia Dei for any Faithful who might attend, an extra stole, and an Italian portable Mass kit that was an ordination gift.  I’m hauling that all over eastern and northern Afghanistan each week.  Monday, I’ll be in Jalalabad, and Tuesday I’ll be in Gardez.  A couple weeks ago, I was in Mazar-e-Sharif, and then over in Kunduz.  While I have to offer Mass in the Ordinary Form pro populo, my regular daily Masses end up being private most of the time, so they are all in the Extraordinary Form.

What a huge blessing.  Many kudos to St. Joe’s!

That was GREAT!

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my own Pelican case.  I pulled some foam to make places for various items so that they don’t rattle about when being transported.

Here’s the whole thing set up.  Note that I have too little clip on LED lights on either side.  Sometimes I have said Mass in places without great light.  I think I may toss in a pair of “cheaters”.


Originally Published on: Mar 9, 2018

I recently had the pleasure of unboxing my new portable “backpack” altar fromSt. Joseph’s Apprentice.

Looking for something for a priest, rookie or vet?

You never have to worry about how what you get will be packaged.

“But Father! But Father!,” you are saying, “What are those little gizmos?”

You shall see.  Eventually.  Once I get the whole thing set up.

The other portable altars (aka Ultimate Priest Gift™) have internal storage.

Look at how the grain is.  Hard to tell, but there is a depth to it and a opalescent quality.

The underside.  NB: the two little knobs.  They open up the retractable legs which bring the altar up to perfect altar height when placed on a standard table… or jeep hood.

There’s a magnet that holds the wings/legs in place.

Cover up and mensa wings deployed.

There are little hooks on the front face.  I added little eyes to the antependia of my travel vestments.

The purple and rose set…

Another view.

My next move is to pull and shape the interior foam insert of my Pelican 1620 case [US HERE – UK HERE], for the little chalice, paten, SPORCH cards, missal, cruets, host boxes, etc.

If you need something done, you will not find a nicer fellow than St. Joseph’s Apprentice.  I spoke with him by phone a few times during this project, and I understand what it means to him to make these altars.  That makes them even more valuable.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    Try going to IKEA and getting anything that remotely looks like that. I am blessed to have a little round table that belonged to my dad. He’s been gone 40 years but I keep his tobacco pouches in the drawer. The wood is still lovely, it must be a really hard wood, because it’s held up to years of use.
    It takes a long time to get that patina, but the altar already has that look. That is just beautifully made.

  2. Antiquorum says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! There’s just something about the look of dark wood.

    One day I’m going to have to save my pennies and see about having him make a roadside shrine.

  3. JustaSinner says:

    Must a portable altar be made of wood? Can it be machined aluminum?

    [I suppose so.]

  4. redsberg says:

    I visited St Joseph’s Apprentice website and I see that they only sell portable altars. Would you know Fr. Z any reputable seller of portable confessionals? Our priest needs one. Thanks

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