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Patron of the Arts-The Catholic Church: Missal Stand/Lectern

Missal Stand/lectern

Embossed, carved, partially gilded silver,
with fretwork and a wooden core
Mexico City
c. 1700-1750
49 x 35 x 36 cm.

The missal stands found in Mexico City often took the shape of a two-headed eagle. This stand was part of a set but the others have been lost.


This lectern was an elaborate stand designed to hold important books on the altar of the Catholic Church. A straight silver shelf can be seen across the lower part of this that supported the book. Birds feet provide a raised front to tip the lectern back to hold the book in an open position.

Technique or Process

This piece has a wooden core with silver over it. The silver has been embossed to create the detailed and elaborate designs of two eagles and a crown. A raised heart is in the center of this piece with lettering engraved into it.

Cultural Roots

Examples of this type of lectern are either from Salamanca or some other locality in Mexico where working in silver was a craft before the Spaniards arrived. Under the Spanish, Mexico became a major source of silver ore. The design possibly originated in Castile in Spain and first appeared in Mexico in 1715. The Spanish brought the religion of Catholicism to Mexico when they invaded the country and this lectern would have been used in the Catholic Church.

Lesson Plans
Visual Arts Lesson: Creating an embossed design of a local bird.
Extension Activities

Math: Compute the exact size of this missal stand. Research the size of full grown eagles and determine if the eagles represented on this piece are larger or smaller than they are in real life.

Language Arts:
Write a four line rhymed verse to describe the bird you embossed and display your poem with your embossment.

Social Studies: Interview leaders from local churches and determine if missal stands are used today. If possible get pictures and the history of some local examples of similar pieces.

Science: Study the life cycle of the eagle. What areas of the world do they inhabit and is the population of this species growing or diminishing?


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