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Catholic Dictionary




The flat top of a fixed or consecrated altar. The portable altar stone sometimes carries the designation of both altar and mensa. The word is also applied to that portion of church property which is set aside for the support of the prelate or the serving ministry. In a canonical sense a mensa requires that the church property be divided equitably between the part that belongs to the clergy and the part to be administered as belonging to the church community. (Etym. Latin mensa, table.)