CNA Staff, Nov 24, 2023 / 09:04 am
The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore finished construction of a platform that will allow priests to celebrate the Mass facing the people, “versus populum,” while using the high altar originally constructed in the 1950s.
“It would be a wonderful thing if the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen were to be mentioned in the same breath as the other great cathedrals of this country and of the world,” Father Justin Gough, an associate pastor at the cathedral, said during a talk about the theology behind the decision earlier this month. “From an artistic and a theological perspective, there is no reason it shouldn’t be.”
The cathedral was constructed from 1954 through 1959 without knowledge of the liturgical changes that would be set following the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s. For this reason, the high altar was designed to be used with the priest facing toward the altar, “ad orientem,” which was the normal liturgical structure prior to the council.
Because the liturgical norms shifted to having most priests face the congregation, the cathedral set up a table altar to use for Mass, which was placed in front of the high altar. The high altar had mostly gone unused for about 60 years until Sunday, Nov. 12, when the cathedral completed a platform behind the high altar, which allows the priest to use it while celebrating Mass facing the people.