6. Place of Celebration
Antiquities of the Christian Church
XVI. Of the Lord's Supper
6. Place of Celebration.
The sacrament was instituted in a private house, and the "breaking of bread" by the apostles. Acts 2:46, 20:7, 8, was in the private houses of believers. But the Corinthians, it appears, had a place distinct from their own houses, set apart for the celebration of this rite and of public worship, 1 Cor. 11:20.
In times of persecution, the Lord's supper was administered wherever it could be done with secrecy and safety, in secret places, in dens and caves of the earth, in the wilderness, and desert fields, etc. But it was a rule from the beginning that, as far as practicable, this ordinance should be solemnized in the public assembly, and in the customary place of public worship. The consecration of the elements, especially, was at times regarded as an act to be performed only in public; as appears from the custom of sending the consecrated elements to the sick, and to the poor or infirm who might be absent. The consecration in private houses was expressly forbidden by the council of Laodicea, c. 58.
The communion table, or altar, was common as early as the second century. This, styled *, was at first made of Wood, hence the expression *. Altars wrought from stone became common in the time of Constantine, and in the Western church were required by ecclesiastical authority in the beginning of the sixth century.
The custom of covering the altar with white linen was very ancient. Optatus is the first writer who expressly mentions this practice. Allusions are also made to it by several other authors.
Balthas. Bebelii, Exercit. de aris et mensis eucharisticis veterum. Argentor. 1666. 4: Jo. Fabricii, De aris vet. Christian. Helmst. 1698. 4: Godofr. Voigtii, Thysiasteriologia, s. de altaribus vet. Chr. Edit.: J. A. Fabricii. Hamb. 1709. 8. 65
De Schismat. Donat. lib. vi. c. 1 seq.
Victor. De Persec. Vandal, lib. i: Isidor. Pelus. lib. i. Ep. 123: Pallad. Hist. Laus. Theod. i. 31.
(* denotes Greek text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)