The top slab of altar granite called the mesa (table) weighs around two tons. It is named Dakota Mahogany and was quarried in South Dakota. It has five sets of small quadruple squares which outline a Greek cross where all of the “arms” are of equal length. The five sets mark the five wounds Christ suffered on the cross. Also, the granite in front of the altar is in the shape of the tau cross.
Saint Louis Abbey was founded in 1955 as a priory of the Benedictine Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire, England. The Abbey Church, also known as the Church of St. Mary and St. Louis and the Priory Chapel, was designed by Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK), with the Italian architect and engineer Pier Luigi Nervi serving as consultant. The Abbey Church is also the home for the St Anselm Parish.
This altar was designed to complement the Romanesque arches of the SSND chapel in the provincial house in St. Louis. Gold finished wheat sections of the former communion rail are an integral part of the design whose lines focus on the action of the liturgy.
The altar-table at the Philadelphia Cathedral is the central liturgical focus in Christian worship, for it is symbolically both a place of sacrifice and a place of communion. It is square in shape, symbolizing the centering of the community, and indicative of the equal access to God’s table enjoyed by all members of the household of faithful. It is set in the midst of the assembly of faith to symbolize the rediscovery of the Eucharist as a participatory sacred meal, instead of a distant ritual.
The altar at St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA is of white marble and dates from 1994. On the west side, two panels from the original high altar of the Cathedral, 1907, feature imagery of wheat and grapes, symbols of the Eucharist. This same imagery is echoed on the other three sides, with panels by three contemporary artists: Mary Jo Anderson (south), Randall Rosenthal (east), and Larry Ahvakana (north).