How to Fold a Catholic Altar Cloth

Folding the Catholic altar cloth correctly is a tradition.
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The Catholic Church relies heavily on its traditions during mass and worship services. The altar, featured in the front of the church where the priest conducts the service, is a salient feature in Catholic worship. The altar is where the priest offers the Eucharist and it is revered as a place of sacrifice. Altar cloths are involved in the service and consist of the corporal, pall, purificator and finger towels. The corporal houses the Sacrament, the pall covers the chalice, the purificator cleans the chalice, and the finger towels are used by the priest after offering Communion. Properly folding and maintaining Catholic altar cloths is an important tradition in the Church.

Prepare the altar cloths for use by washing them in hot water with oxygen-based laundry detergent. Once washed, hang the linens on a clothesline to dry. It is imperative that you never dry the altar cloths in the dryer. Iron the cloths while still damp to ensure you completely remove the wrinkles.

Fold the corporal into three equal sections. Begin with the front section and fold this into the middle. Take the back section of the cloth and fold toward the center and over the front section. Next, fold the section of cloth on the right side toward the center. End the folding by placing the left side over the center, creating three layers of equally folded cloth. The corporal cloth is the only altar cloth that is folded.

Store the altar cloths when not in use. Do not store in a plastic bag, which can harbor dampness and allow mold to grow. The cloth should be kept in a dark cabinet, preferably made of wood, which will prevent insects and moisture from damaging the linen. Do not place the cloths in a cedar box or cabinet.

Natalie Chardonnet began writing in 2006, specializing in art, history, museums and travel. In 2010, she presented a paper on those subjects at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Chardonnet has a Bachelor of Arts in art history and a minor in Italian studies from Truman State University, in addition to a certificate in French from Ifalpes University in Chambery, France.