Altar and reredos



The altar is the heart of the church.

It usually stands at the east end of the chancel or presbytery, in an area known as the sanctuary.

The altar has two principal symbolic meanings.  First, it is a sacrificial altar.  Christian writers saw Jesus as a sacrificed lamb in his crucifixion and the altar remembers that sacrifice.  Second, it is a table for a communal meal, remembering the last supper.

The altar is frequently marked by five crosses, referring to the five wounds of Christ.


Behind the altar may be a reredos screen.

It can be a curtain, a picture or carvings in stone or wood.

Sometimes it has niches containing figures of saints.


(text and images courtesy of Heritage Inspired)