Fr. Z is reporting that in his hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Paul's Cathedral has recently restored its throne to the Gospel side of the sanctuary. (Click here to see Father's post and photos of the restoration.) With that regard, let me take some time to explain why there is a throne in a church.
First of all, the throne is the seat of the diocesan bishop, located in the cathedral, the main church of the diocese. (The word cathedra is Greek and Latin for "chair." So the cathedral is the location of the chair, or throne, of the bishop. Whereas, the cathedral is the "throne room," not a "big church." The size of church does not matter, as long as a throne is permanently displayed inside the sanctuary, the church is a cathedral church.)
The bishop is the monarch of his diocese; the Pope is the monarch of the Universal Church. The Church is a monarchy, so the leaders are monarchs. Hence, the term throne is often used to describe the seat of the bishop inside the cathedral.
Most thrones before V2 were just like the ones of kings and queens, except a king and a queen would sit in a double. There are at least three steps to the throne, just like the high altar, but may not exceed the amount of the high altar. The three steps are representative of the Holy Trinity.
|The throne at the |
Cathedral of the Holy Cross,
Photo by Chris Whittle
During a Pontifical High Mass, the bishop presides from here after he incenses the altar, and stays here until the Offertory. He may go to the pulpit to preach the sermon, however. This is where he vests before and after Mass and Divine Office. He excommunicates heretics from here. He makes proclamations here, ex cathedra.
When the diocesan bishop visits a parish, a makeshift throne is set up on the Gospel side of the sanctuary. (Most Anglican parishes have a permanent throne in parish churches, as it is their custom.)
When an auxiliary bishop is present, he does not use the throne, but instead uses the faldstool. The same rule applies for a visiting bishop. An archbishop uses the throne if he is in his metropolitan province. A cardinal uses the throne anywhere outside the city of Rome.
Sadly, most V2 cathedrals have the throne in the middle of the sanctuary where the altar/tabernacle should be. This is part of the Freemasonic plan to destroy the Catholic Church, and must be avoided.