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Posted on Dec 24, 2013 |

Treasures: St. William Advent Antependium

Treasures: St. William Advent Antependium

Father Andrew Umberg beside the Advent-themed antependium (altar front) he designed for St. William Church in West Price Hill. “Stars” made of upholstery tacks are placed in patterns symbolic of salvation history.

Father Andrew Umberg beside the Advent-themed antependium (altar front) he designed for St. William Church in West Price Hill. “Stars” made of upholstery tacks are placed in patterns symbolic of salvation history.

Altar cover tells a story

Historic St. William Church in West Price Hill has a new treasure: A set of a dozen (so far) altar covers. Each cover, or “antependium” was designed by the church’s pastor, Fr. Andrew Umberg. Parishioner Tina Geers sent this description of the Advent antependium:

This design attempts to convey the winter sky at sunset, symbolizing the passing away of this creation as we await a new heaven and a new earth at the Second Coming of Christ. Or, is it a winter sunrise, symbolizing the dawn of salvation, which we recall as we prepare to celebrate the First Coming of Christ? Either way, the color graduation shows gold, pink, and light purple, moving to a darker purple, then a deep purple and dark grape color with carpet and upholstery tacks arranged like stars to give the impression of a night sky. The central image in the night sky is the Chi-Ro, the symbol of Christ who comes from beyond the farthest reaches of the cosmos to save us and raise us to the glory of the heavenly Kingdom.

The stars along the darkest panel are arranged to symbolize a timeline of salvation history: The first two small but conspicuous stars on the viewer’s side far left represent Adam and Eve. To the right of them are three large stars, symbolizing the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are followed by twelve stars, for the twelve sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel. In the center, over the Chi-Ro, several stars form a crown, with the stars of the lower part of the crown spelling the name of David in Hebrew (this because the Messianic hope of the Jewish people was based on the promises of the prophet Nathan to David, that his dynasty would last forever). The number values of the three letters that spell David in Hebrew have numerical values that add up to 14 (Hebrew “D”=4, Hebrew “V”=6: “DVD”=4+6+4=14). Matthew’s gospel portrays the history of Israel as having three eras of fourteen generations each, leading up to Christ. Therefore, after David’s crown, we put 14 stars before another constellation, a letter “M” for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On the broad panel, to the left of the Chi-Ro, there is a constellation depicting the face of a lion, symbolizing Christ, the Lion of Judah mentioned in the Book of Revelation. On the right, a star of David, again indicating that Christ is the Son of David (i.e. ancestor and heir of David) and the spiritual fulfillment of the promise made to David.

We will show you more St. William antependia in 2o14.

A closer look at the "stars" and their patterns.

A closer look at the “stars” and their patterns.

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