What is a tabernacle?

The tabernacle is the chamber where leftover Eucharist is reserved for the sick or dying or to be used at a later mass.

If the consecrated body and/or blood of Christ is present inside there is a lit candle above or beside it. Most Catholic churches and some Episcopalian/Anglican churches observe this. Catholics genuflect before the tabernacle as a sign of reverence.  Usually tabernacles are focused in a central location behind the altar although some have them off to the side on a side altar.

Brett Hoover, CSP

Ordained in 1997 as a Paulist priest, Fr. Brett is clinical assistant professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where he teaches pastoral theology and on the intersection of faith and culture. He received his Ph.D. in 2010 and has taught at Loyola University Chicago and the Catholic seminaries at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Fr. Brett is the author of three books, including the recently published Comfort: An Atlas for the Body and Soul (New York: Riverhead, 2011). From 2001 to 2004, Fr. Brett co-founded and then served as editor of BustedHalo.com.