One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A portable slab of stone consecrated for use where there is no consecrated altar.
- ‘The scene captures the moment when, during a mass in the Sta Croce in Gerusaleme Church in Rome, Pope Gregorius the Great experienced a vision of Christ of Dolours at the altar mensa (superaltar), validating theological speculations on the actual presence of Christ in the holy wafer.’
- ‘The Communion-table is of wood, with a vulgar-looking attempt at superaltar and reredos.’
- ‘You may take away from us if you will every external ceremony; you may take away altars, and superaltars, lights and incense and vestments, and we will submit to you.’
- ‘The superaltar bears the inscription: ‘I am that Bread of Life.’’
- ‘Properly speaking, a superaltar is a small movable slab of stone, which is placed, as occasion for the celebration of the Holy Communion may require, upon some unconsecrated table or altar.’
- ‘The answer is that the superaltars which are made by the bishops when a church is consecrated, suffice oratories in lieu of consecration or enthronement when they are sent to them, on the occasion of their dedication or opening.’
Middle English: from medieval Latin superaltare, from super- ‘over’ + late Latin altar(e) ‘altar’.
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