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By a symbolism prevalent from a very early period the altar was regarded as typical of Christ, the God-Man, abiding permanently with His Church in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and this conception is preserved, for example, in the address now made to the candidate in the ordination of a subdeacon.
The deacon then conveys the salute to the sub-deacon, and the subdeacon to the canons or clergy in the stalls.
relics, the book of the Gospels, the cross, blessed palms, candles, the hands of the clergy and nearly all the utensils and vestments connected with the liturgy.
In particular the altar is repeatedly kissed by the celebrant in the course of the Mass, and this practice is of very ancient date.
From a very early date, also, the abuses to which this form of salutation might lead were very carefully guarded against.
Both in the East and the West women and men were separated in the assemblies of the faithful, and the kiss of peace was given only by women to women and by men to men.