Mensa, Mensal

Mensa, Mensal (table), a name anciently given to a church erected over a martyr's grave. SEE MARTYR. Such edifices received this appellation from the distinctive altar or communion table. Thus Augustine speaks of a church called mensa Cypriani-Cyprian, as he explains, not having eaten there, but having there been offered up. Prior to the Reformation in Scotland, when the revenue of a popish bishopric arose from the annexation of parish churches, those allotted to the bishop himself were called mensal churches, as furnishing his table; the other churches being called common, as bishop and chapter had an interest in them. Mensa is used by some writers in the same sense as Martyriumn (q.v.). See Eadie, Ecclesiastes Cyclop. s.v.; Riddle, Christian Antiquities (Index); Walcott, Sacred Archceol. s.v.

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