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Red Art Nouveau antependium of the Kreuzkirche (Dresden)
Antependium from the former guardian angel altar in the collegiate church of St. Martin in Landshut . Now in the treasury. Early 18th century. The picture shows the city of Landshut with the churches of St. Jodok and St. Martin, as well as Trausnitz Castle .

The antependium (from Latin ante "in front of" and pendere "to hang") is originally a richly decorated and embroidered curtain made of fabric on the front or the sides of the stipe , the base of the altar .

Antependia are in use in both the Protestant and the Catholic Church. Antependia usually serve as an altar and as a pulpit curtain . Like all paraments, they are kept in the liturgical colors and are usually provided with symbols appropriate to the church season .

In the Catholic and autocephalous churches of the Antiochene Rite , an antependium is always prescribed on the altar, which traditionally consists of three red, embroidered fields with a green frame all year round.


These curtains have been used as altar hangings since the 4th century. They were called pallium or vestus altaris (altar dress) and partially covered all sides of the altar. The name Antependium did not appear until the late Middle Ages. Especially the front - the frontal one - has often been embroidered with precious picture motifs since the early Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages , the altar from the cafeteria (altar plate) to the floor was often not clad with fabric, but with wood, precious metal or stone, also on the back (dorsal, French dossier ), often also adorned with decorations. This disguise is called the Antemensale . A fabric curtain was prescribed in the Catholic Church since 1570. Antependia had no folds and were attached to pegs or hooks or were sewn onto the altar cloth .

Received antependums of high artistic value are, for example:


Web links

Commons : Antependium  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Antependium  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Joseph Braun: The Liturgical Paraments in the present and past .. 2., verb. Edition. Freiburg (Breisgau) 1924, pp. 191–193.