23 May 2007

Faith comes from hearing

The ambo or pulpit holds tremendous importance within any church because it is the place from which the Sacred Scriptures are proclaimed. The Roving Medievalist has asked for additional pictures of the pulpit from my home parish. I don't have too many, but I am happy to post some.

This lousy scan from one parish history book show three sides of the pulpit.

The pulpit is pentagonaly is designed, with one side remaining open by which to enter, while the remaining four sides each have a relief of one of the four Evangelists, with their evangelical symbols. The fourth Evangelist is very close to the wall and is thereby - quite regretably - impossible to photograph.

Here I am proclaiming the Gospel from this pulpit as a Deacon.

Prior to 1943, the pulpit was elevated rather significantly and was located within the body of the church. Here is a picture from the history books of the original pulpit.


  1. There's a similar one in one of the churches in my neighborhood. The gold is probably glass mosaic? It's a shame about the base and stair rail being removed. That was done with the one here, too. They used the base as a pedestal for a statue of Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos. Some small consolation.

  2. I guess you have to visit old neighborhoods to see churches like this.

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  4. What message do you suppose is being sent when the ambo looks like a prop from Star Trek? Beam me up, Lord.

    Our ambo is a hideous chunk of ganite.

  5. Jeffrey: I'm not sure if it is glass mosaic or not, but I would guess so. Either way, it looks nice.

    Esther: Probably. You tend to have to something built more than sixty years ago.

    Carolina: I'm not sure what message is being sent, but I despise the hideous things. I'm seen my fair share of them.

  6. I don't get it. If the changes stemming from V2 is supposed to enable people to participate more and 'seeing the priest' is so important, then why get rid of elevated ambos? Just doesn't make much sense.

  7. I'm not quite sure, Andrew, but in this case the pulpit was lowered twenty years prior to Vatican II.

  8. Anonymous11:46 AM

    Andrew, seeing the priest was one of the goals of Vatican 2; you're right. But the larger goal in reorienting the positions of the priest (as well as lectors) was to have the proclaiming of the Word more closely imitate the way in which it probably occurred during the time of Our Lord and the Apostles. The Gospels tell us that Jesus sat on hillsides at times (and was thus elevated), but often he was down among the people -- conversing with them, engaging them in a dialogue, and teaching from their midst. That's one very good reason, I'd say, for not placing the priest (and the lectors) eight or twelve feet over the heads of the assembly.


  9. Steve, could you please point out for us where in the documents of the Council, or those that followed, or in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal you find this thought? I've been searching for it and I cannot find anything about it.

  10. The original purpose of high pulpits was make it easier for everyone to hear what was being said. When Our Lord spoke to large groups, I suspect he found a rock, or something.
    From some conversations I've had with priests who were involved in such things, I get the impression they were lowered to avoid the impression that the priest was higher than the congregation. Psychological sort of thing.