Basilica installs new gate for altar rail

New to the Basilica this summer is the beautiful brass gate recently installed in the center of our marble altar rail. The gate comes from Saint Bonaventure Church (which is now closed) in Philadelphia and is about 125 years old.

Architect and historian Denis McNamara describe altar rails and their gates this way:

“[The altar rail] is a marker of the place where heaven and earth meet, indicating that they are not yet completely united…. But, at the same time, the rail is low, very permeable, and has a gate, so it does not prevent us from participating in heaven. So we could say there is a theology of the rail, one which sees it as more than a fence, but as a marker where heaven and earth meet, where the priest, acting in persona Christi, reaches across from heaven to earth to give the Eucharist as the gift of divine life.”

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