Christ Church Altar
From "A Tour of Christ Church:"
"The golden screen was designed for the space by Dr. Cram… In a typical Orthodox church the screen is in front of the altar, and separates the congregation from this holy table. Only priests in vestments approach the altar, frequently through a screen having a pair of doors in the center. Imagine that the screen you are looking at is in front of the altar and comes to ground level instead of finishing at waist height. In our screen, in the center, there is a small pair of doors. Originally, they would have been part of a larger structure in front of an altar and a priest would have passed through them. The doors are called “Royal Doors” because Christ the King in the form of the Eucharist is passed through them, carried by the priest. These particular doors date from about 1660, they are Russian and formed part of the collection of the last czar, Nicolas II. The six icons in the doors are considered fine quality and have not been repainted. The six icons shows Annunciation. The four below are of the four Evangelists. Each of the Evangelists is shown with his symbol, which appears, in the red ogee at the top of the icon. At top left is St. Mark. His symbol in the red ogee is the winged lion. The other person in the picture is St. Peter-traditionally Peter told his story to Mark. At the top right is St. Matthew, with his symbol of the winged angel, at bottom right is St. John with his eagle, and bottom left is St. Luke with his bull. The source of this iconography is the Book of Revelation.
Just above the altar is a set of six small icons depicting eastern saints. They are 16th Century, and also from the collection of Nicolas II. Originally, this group would have been part of an iconostasis-an Eastern Orthodox choir screen built to hold such icons.
The altar itself is of Spanish marble. There are 34 different kinds of marble in Christ Church, adding to its richness and beauty. The marble panels are cleverly cut so the natural striations form matching and harmonious designs. Turning and looking to the sides of the nave, one sees four columns of purple Levanto marble, quarried near Turin, Italy. The striking, winding, lighter veins may be meant to remind us of the flogging of Christ. The capital of these columns are carved acanthus leaves, typical of the Byzantine style. The piers which alternate with the columns are of Rosato d’Or, also from Italy, inset with panes of Fleur de Peche, framed by Hautville, both from France. The lectern and pulpit are also of Rosato d’Or, with inset panels of Bresche Rose, a rare French marble. Near the altar are small green side columns of Italian Cippolino marble."