Worship and Authority
Altars were the focal points of worship within the medieval
church. It was on an altar that the primary ritual of the Sacrament
of the Eucharist was performed. The ceremony necessitated ritual dress,
the priest robed in a long flowing garment called a chasuble. Invariably
he was accompanied by assistants who would bring the bread, water, and wine
for blessing, ring bells at appropriate times, and, according to the solemnity
of the service, carry candles and holy water containers, and swing censors.
By the late Middle Ages, almost all churches had multiple altars.
This allowed altars dedicated to specific saints to display the relics of
the saint. Donors also constructed altars against walls and between
pillars so that prayers would be said for the soul of the deceased members
of the family, many of whom were buried adjacent to the altar.