Sanctuary and Main Altar — Our Lady of Grace Church, West Sacramento

The simply adorned altar table of Our Lady of Grace Church sits beneath an apse structured in the shape of a square to house the sanctuary. The wooden altar table is supported by legs adorned with carved crosses, covered by a white table cloth edged with decorative Chi-Rho symbols.

The Chi-Rho symbol represents the Greek letters of Chi (shaped as an “X”) and Rho (shaped as a “P”) which form the first two letters of the Greek word “Christos” (Christ). The front of the table is swathed in an ornamental drape in a color appropriate for the liturgical season – also in front is a sculpted relief of the Last Supper to further highlight the site of the Eucharistic miracle that takes place at each Mass.

The rear (eastern) wall of the sanctuary holds the images which seem to attract the focus of the building: a beautiful stained-glass image of the patroness Our Lady of Grace, a Crucifix and a golden tabernacle.

An ornate golden tabernacle sits against the back wall on a wooden table with the same design and decorative cloth as the main altar table just ahead of it. The cylindrical-shaped home of the Eucharist has openable doors etched with grapes, vines and flowers surrounding the Greek letters of Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet symbolizing the all-encompassing nature of God – from beginning to end. On top of the tabernacle is a downward facing dove depicting the Holy Spirit’s presence as part of the holy sacrament. The tabernacle is flanked by accompanying angels holding single white candles and draped with colorful shawls. To the right is the ever-present sanctuary lamp in a fluted red vase.

Above the tabernacle just below the round stained-glass window of Our Lady of Grace is an exquisite image of Jesus on the Cross. His lifeless body bears red blood stains from the wounds on His hands, feet, knees, arms, scalp and side. He hangs on a simple dark wooden cross with the parchment of INRI (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”) tacked over His head. The image is a clear illumination of Jesus’ humanity in death, just days before His saving Resurrection. The Crucifix was brought to the church by Father Mathew Rappu from India.

To the right of the sanctuary are a wooden cabinet for the storage and display of holy oils; and a niche for the book of the Gospels. This book is ceremoniously walked across the sanctuary to the ambo for the reading of the Gospel at each Mass.

%d bloggers like this: