Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What is wrong with this picture?

Kids and many others don't even know what sacrilege is anymore.

This is the chapel at the catacombs of St. Sebastian (http://www.piac.it/) where pilgrim groups often celebrate Holy Mass (located directly below the present tomb, where the tomb had once been for centuries).

Why is this (consecrated) altar mensa now used as part of the floor?  This is desecrating that which is sacred, even if the stone is already cracked.


  1. What is the proper thing to do with a broken mensa or other thing like this that can't be used anymore for its original purpose?

  2. Is it still consecrated? Given the Roman habit of reusing old, broken things, and some dim recollection of a ritual for de-consecration, it wouldn't surprise me if that was done before this was turned into pavement.

    But I'm just guessing here, John.

  3. Golly; this is shocking. This is the sort of thing they did in the English reformation!

  4. According to canon law, a broken altar mensa loses its consecrated quality the moment it is broken. There is no need for a formal rite of de-consecration (which may have been on the Roman Ritual for all I know). In this case, the moment the fracture was big enough to breach the sepulcrum (the space where the relics are buried), the mensa was ipso facto de-consecrated. - I'd rather not see an old mensa set in the floor, but there is, as they say, no accounting for taste or good manners. Formally (and legally), it is correct, but not all correct things are good.