Altar linens are the many beautiful sacramentals centering on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Sacred Vessels needed for Mass are:
The Chalice: A cup of precious metal (the inside must be gold or gold-plated) that holds the wine consecrated at Mass which becomes the Precious Blood.
The Paten: A small plate of precious metal that holds the Sacred Host.
The Ciborium: A large cup of precious metal, with a cover of the same material, that contains the hosts consecrated for distribution to the faithful in Holy Communion.
The Purificator: A small linen cloth used by the priest to dry his fingers and the chalice when he has washed and purified them after Communion.
The Corporal: The linen cloth spread by the priest on the altar at the beginning of Mass. The chalice, paten, and ciboria rest upon this cloth. All of these things rest upon an altar cloth. There can be many layers of altar cloths, but at least one is used. The top layer, known as the Mensa, must always be white.
A finger towel is used in the Lavabo rite, which follows the offering of the gifts of bread and wine. It symbolizes the priest’s sinfulness and the importance of clerical purity at the Holy Sacrifice.
Byzantine antimension is the actual altar in the Eastern Rite Churches. It is a cloth that usually has an imprint of the dead Jesus lying in state. It contains five relics of saints in the four corners and one in the middle. It can be obtained for priests from the Byzantine Eparch.
In the Western Rite, the altar is wooden, marble, or some other dignified material such as granite. In it, five relics are placed in a stone or somewhere in the altar itself. This was a requirement until 1969. With the New Mass of Pope Paul VI, relics in altars are optional.
The Pall: A small square of stiffened linen or of cardboard covered with linen, used to cover the chalice.
The Chalice Veil: A cloth covering, of the same color as the Chasuble that conceals the chalice and paten up to the offertory and after Communion.
The Burse: A flat, square container of cloth, the same color as the vestments, in which the corporal is carried to and from the altar. It is placed over the veil on top of the chalice.