Once again we have the confusion. The statues (reliquaries?) on the altar should be facing the celebrant as the corpus on the crucifix does. This new arrangement is now used in St. Peter's when the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul are put on the altar. One would think that there are enough archival photographs to show how it ought to be done.
John - If you have a chance, a walk down into the crypt is an unparalleled sight. This church was built on top of and incorporating 3 pagan temples, the main nave being formed from the central pagan temple to Janus, and on either side, the church's side aisles incorporate the other 2 temples to Janus and Spes (hope). In the crypt, their antique columns, bases and foundation blocks are still visible, with doric (Janus, 6th C BC), ionic (Juno, 3rd C BC), and mixed styles evident. You can see how they support even today the upper present church which incorporated them. I understand Thursday mornings before Noon is the time for crypt visits. The sacred art within the church itself is interesting too... including a shrine with consecration prayer and a duplicate of the tilma image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Ascensione by Lorenzo Costa, and an interesting oil painted contemporary Via Crucis by Vanni Rinaldi of Bari. Contact me via my website if interested in photos.
Anonymous: And that is your only concern? What difference does it make which direction the reliquaries are facing....its a blessing just to have the Mass celebrated!
Actually, Anonymous, if they are going to the trouble of celebrating this mass it should be done correctly, don't you think? The whole point of the last decades of nonsense is losing the traditions which the new "traditional" hybrids are losing just as quickly. For that matter, the reliquaries' backs are to the Eucharist in this instance. Maybe bringing back the traditions is hopeless when crumbs seem to suffice the starving. It is a blessing to have any mass celebrated.
I have in front of me a copy of a print showing the canonization of Saint Charles Borromeo in St. Peter's in 1610 and it shows the altar before the transformations by Bernini. It clearly shows the statues facing down the nave of the church, and there are only four candles on the altar. Also the Pope's throne is in the centre of the apse where we expect to see the altar of the chair, which was built later. I think things were not always set in stone. Yet in the Raphael Stanze in the Vatican there are at least two paintings which I remember to show the statues facing the apse, both showing the pre-Bernini Altar, with four angels supporting a much smaller canopy and without the confessio.