In a previous post I decried having two main altars in older churches or in new ones (a common practice today). I suggested that if an attached altar to a reredos is present in an older church that it should be detached, pulled forward with enough room on either side for Mass to be celebrated. I used the example of my former church in Augusta, a marvelous example.
However, when I approved the renovation of St. Joseph’s sanctuary in Macon, we discovered that given the nature of the historic altar, that the stability of the reredos might be compromised if the altar part was detached from it.
When I got there, the tabernacle had be moved to a side altar (around 1970 or so). About 10 years ago, I placed it back on the main altar’s tabernacle. Taken as a whole, that altar’s reredos has the crucifixion scene above it, the tabernacle below it and on the facade of the altar the “Last Supper” sculpture, quite common in Jesuit built churches of that period.
Thus, I made sure that the new free standing altar not be on the level three steps down from the old altar but that we build up the sanctuary floor so that the new altar would be on the same level at the old attached altar making it appear from the nave’s point of view as one unit and that the new altar was clearly the altar of sacrifice and not lesser to the attached altar. It would have looked lesser if it had remained three steps lower than the original as in the case of the photo in the post two below this one.
I celebrated the EF Mass on the new free standing altar and for one Sunday Mass, ad orientem for the OF Mass.
When importing a traditional altar and reredos from a closed church, placing it in the new church people could easily make sure that the attached altar is detached in the reconstruction of it with room on both sides of it to celebrate Mass and no new free standing altar is commissioned or used.