Contemporary Christian church items haven’t significantly changed since the ancient times. Each unit of the church internal decoration has preserved both applied and symbolic meaning, forming in such a way an amalgamated system of symbols and respective aura in the temple. The holy table that is situated at the altar behind the Holy Doors is wildly known as the most sacred place of the church.
The holy table and its symbolic meaning in Orthodox church
This item of the church interior decoration is very rich for symbols that substitute one another during the service. Moreover, the symbolic meaning is also carried out by the parts of the wooden holy table, as for example, its four feet symbolize the four unbreakable pillars of faith.
While in the temple, touching this sacred element, as well as standing in front of it is the only privilege of the priests. Also, the very consecration of the holy table is held behind closed doors. Globally, the holy table symbolizes the heavenly glory that was granted to Jesus for his earthly journey. In order to understand the liturgy, believers listen to the priest’s prayer and watch how the symbolism of the holy table transforms several times as the service goes on.
The carved holy table truly bears the most versatile load of symbols constituting the most sacred part of the temple that is treated by the believers with outstanding awe.
The holy table vestment
The holy table carries several vestments with their own specific symbolic meaning. The lower vestment, the white robe, covers the entire holy table. It bears memories of the robe that was wrapped over the Savior’s body after crucifixion and symbolizes his sacrifice.
The second vestment of the holy table, the rope, girdles the holy table all over and symbolizes Jesus’ bonds during his trial in court. These biblical motifs constitute the single, global symbolic meaning of the holy table and reveal its value and sanctity.
The upper vestment is made of fine wood and impresses with its pompous appearance. The side walls of the holy table often bear patterns, crosses and carved icons to convey biblical motifs. Following the canon, the vestments of the holy table and the altar share one and the same style or are completely identical to reflect their bond in the worship service.
Purchase of the essential church items such as holy table and vestment is a must for every temple. In Ukraine and other CIS countries, the craftsmen apply wood carving techniques while producing the upper vestment in order to turn it into an artwork of symbols that please parishioners.
Undoubtedly, for centuries, believers have not changed their understanding of the holy table as the most important sacred item in the temple that is treated with particular awe.