Thanks to a very generous donor, St. Dominic Catholic Church was able to complete the installation of a magnificent, wood-paneled altarpiece, also known as a reredos. The word “reredos” comes from Latin meaning “wall behind the altar.” At the center of the reredos is a gothic tabernacle that is 9 feet tall. Consistent with the original gothic architectural design of the church, the reredos provides a splendid aesthetic for the Catholic mass. The original reredos was dismantled in the 1960s after being damaged by termites. This restoration of the sanctuary provides a beautiful centerpiece of ritual and liturgy that will inspire all who enter the church.
The installation of the new reredos marks the continuation of the parish’s efforts to restore the historic church, now over 160 years old, and the sixth oldest in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Last year, the church installed a new altar of sacrifice, also in keeping with the church’s gothic design. The beautiful wood-paneled altar depicts St. Dominic and a number of Dominican saints. The marble baptismal font is currently being restored. During the summer, the church will repair and paint the window frames around all the stained glass windows and then make structural repairs to the steeple.
The historic church, which has been a landmark in the Southwest since it was dedicated in 1875, features 24 stained glass windows that illustrate important events in the life of the church’s patron St. Dominic (ca. 1171-1221). At the bottom of each window a Dominican saint is shown. Other attractive windows depict themes and images integral to the Dominican religious order. The distinctive tall, green steeple pierces the Southwest DC skyline and attracts the attention of drivers coming over the 14th Street bridge from northern Virginia.
The reredos was fabricated by Mountain View Millworks in West Virginia and then delivered and installed in St. Dominic during the month of May. The parish also removed the red carpeting from all the aisles and refinished the original terrazzo tile floors. People are welcome to the parish’s weekday (8:00 a.m. & 12:10 p.m.) and weekend masses (Saturdays – 5:15 p.m. and Sundays – 8:00 a.m., 10:45 a.m., & 5:15 p.m.).