10 Beautiful Photos of Traditional Altar Rails

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Barney Bishop, Flickr

Before the Second Vatican Council, the normal way for a Catholic to receive the Eucharist was for him to kneel at an altar rail at the front the church and receive on the tongue. Altar rails were sometimes plain, sometimes very ornate – but they were a predictable part of many Catholic churches.

Today, however, an altar rail is a rare site. Most were removed in the years following the Second Vatican Council.

Whether you think that was a good thing or a bad thing, here are pictures of 17 churches with beautiful altar rails. You can click on any image to view it full size. When information on the name and location of the church is known, it is included in the caption.

Enjoy!

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St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, IL / Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Flickr
St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, IL / Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Flickr
Cathedral of Saint Colman / William Murphy, Flickr
Cathedral of Saint Colman / William Murphy, Flickr
Mike Green, Flickr
Mike Green, Flickr
Greve Church in Greve, Denmark / Bill Smith, Flickr
Greve Church in Greve, Denmark / Bill Smith, Flickr
Church of St. Nicholas / Jorge Láscar, Flickr
Church of St. Nicholas in Stockholm, Sweden / Jorge Láscar, Flickr
Gesu Church in Miami, FL / Alex Begin, Flickr
Gesu Church in Miami, FL / Alex Begin, Flickr
Lincoln Cathedral, England / David Merrett, Flickr
Lincoln Cathedral, England / David Merrett, Flickr
St. Cecilia's Church in St. Louis, MO / via stceciliaparishstl.org
St. Cecilia’s Church in St. Louis, MO / via stceciliaparishstl.org
St. Oswalds in Widford, England / crunklygill, Flickr
St. Oswalds in Widford, England / crunklygill, Flickr
St. Patrick's Cathedral / Barney Bishop, Flickr
St. Patrick’s Cathedral / Barney Bishop, Flickr

What do you think of altar rails? Do we need to bring them back? Let us know in the comments!

[See also: Inside Antarctica’s Catholic Ice Chapel, the World’s Southernmost Church]

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