Antimensium

Antimensium (from ἀντί, instead of, and nmensa, a table), a consecrated table-cloth, occasionally used in the Greek Church in places where there was no altar. It answers to the Latin altare portabile, or portable altar. The origin of this cloth is said to be the following: When the bishop consecrated a church, a cloth, which had been spread on the ground and over the communion- table, was torn in pieces and distributed among the priests, who carried away each a fragment to serve to cover the tables in their churches and chapels; not that it was necessary such cloths should be laid on all tables, but only on those which either were not consecrated or whose consecration was doubtful.

 
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