The paper deals with an ancient ritual of building wooden churches, related to the pre-Christian age. The rite consisted in fixing the chancel table on a tree trunk, cut on its upper side, while its root remains in the earth. This practice has been previously witnessed in the Romanian cultural area, but only now the author examines it. He studies the connections of the custom with folk Christianity, with the rites of building churches and the cult of trees. In the context of the rite’s emergence and development, he enquires, as well, the legends and different information related to it. Considering the trunks found in old wooden churches, the author analyses the species of trees, the forms and the decoration of the foot of the chancel table. From the viewpoint of the symbolic thought, due to this chancel table, the newly erected building stood on the pillar of the earth and on the column of the sky. The author treats also the conditions that contributed to the preservation of this practice through the ages, as well as the causes of its later disappearance.
Keywords: chancel table, tree trunk, folk Christianity, rites of building, cult of trees, legends of foundation, pillar of the earth, column of the sky.
Cuvinte-cheie: masa altarului, trunchi de arbore, creştinism popular, rituri de construcţie, cultul arborilor, legende de întemeiere, stâlpul pământului, coloana cerului.