Eliza Street, Belfast, Antrim BT7 2BJ
This is the most sacred (holy) part of the Church; this is where the Altar, the Tabernacle and the Pulpit reside. To show its importance (significance) the Sanctuary has a raised floor, its space is defined by the Altar rails and its' walls and floor areas have more significant decoration.
Mass is the greatest of all prayers and at Mass the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus (the Holy Eucharist). The altar is significant because it is here that the consecration of the bread and wine take place. The Altar is always covered with a white cloth to remind us of the Last Supper.
During Mass you will seethe Missal (which contains the prayers used); there will be a cruicifix on or near the Altar to remind us of Jesus' death on Good Friday. Although everyone uses electricity today, candles are still used at Mass because they symbolise our prayers.
The Lamb of God is shown at the front of the Altar to remind the congregation that Jesus is the Lamb of God. He was called this by Saint John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin) at his baptism in the River Jordan. The Cross and flag held by the Lamb represent Jesus' death and Resurrection.
On the back of the Altar is this symbol. It is called the 'Chi Rho' and it is the first 3 letters of 'Christ' in Greek. This is the oldest symbol used for representing Jesus.
Under the altar cloth there are five crosses which have been carved into the limestone surface. Four crosses are carved in each corner and one in the centre. They represent the five wounds of Jesus.
Directly behind the Altar in our Church we have a special area called the Reredos or High Altar, which contains the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is where the Holy Eucharist is kept. Above the doors is the word 'Sanctus' which is the Latan word for 'Holy'. Below the Tabernacle is a statue of the dead Jesus.
Hanging from the arch in front of the Tabernacle is a special candle called the Sanctuary Lamp. It must always remain lit as it gives us a visual reminder of the permanent presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
We know that God's word is special and so to highlight this we have a special place in the Sanctuary known as the Pulpit. It is from here that the Priest will deliver God's message which is taken directly from the Bible.
The Pulpit is made of marble but the canopy, which is the oldest original feature in our Church is made from wood and decorated to match the Pulpit.
The priest's chair, like the Altar, is made from limestone. On the chair you will see the letters X P S which stand for 'CHRISTOS' - the Greek word for Christ, which means the 'Anointed One'.
Although the large wooden Crucifix at the side of the Sanctuary is new, the figure of Jesus on it is over 150 years old. Our cross is a Celtic Cross. Above the figure of Jesus you will see the letters INRI which stand for the Latin inscription Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, which Pilate put on the Cross. It means Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
The floor of the Sanctuary is very striking in its colour and detail as well as being symbolic. The inscription refers to the Holy Eucharist. In the centre you will see an image of a pelican, this is an ancient symbol for Jesus.
If you look closely you will see that the floor is made from thousands of tiny tiles known as 'Mosaic'.