Antependium (Antepane, or Antipendium)

Antependium (Antepane, Or Antipendium)

a veil or hanging in front of an altar. The use of such a piece of drapery no doubt began at a period when altars were first constructed with cancellated fronts. The veil hanging in front would protect the interior from dust and from profane or irreverent curiosity. In the 7th and 8th centuries veils of rich and costly stuffs are often mentioned as suspended "before the altar," as in the case where pope Leo III gave to the Church of St. Paul at Rome a red veil which hangs before the altar, having in the middle a cross of gold embroidery and a border of the same. It is possible, however, that in this and like cases the veil was not attached to the altar, but hung before it from the ciborium, or from arches or railings raised upon the altar enclosure.

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