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Article

Annabel Jane Wharton

Building used for the rite of baptism into the Christian Church. In late antiquity the term baptisterium or baptisterion (Lat. baptizare: ‘to dip under water’), which designated a swimming bath (e.g. Pliny the younger: Letters II.xvii.11), was applied to the baptismal piscina or font and then to the whole structure in which baptism took place. With the Eucharist, baptism was a central sacrament in the Early Christian Church. The ritual was prescribed by Christ (John 3:5; Matthew 28:19) and modelled after his own baptism by St John the Baptist. The meaning of baptism was established by St Paul: by participating in Christ’s death and resurrection through baptism, the believer was cleansed of his sins and admitted to the body of the Church (1 Corinthians 6:11, 12:13; Romans 6:4). By the ...

Article

Alison Manges Nogueira

Monumental, marble paschal Candlestick of the late 12th to early 13th century with reliefs signed by Nicolaus de Angelo and Vassallettus now in S Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome. The imposing column (h. 5.6 m), adorned with six registers of reliefs and surmounted by a fluted candle holder, rests upon a base of sculpted lions, sphinxes, rams and female figures. The upper and lower reliefs bear vegetal and ornamental patterns while the three central registers portray ...

Article

John Osborne

Underground burial complex employed principally between c. 200 ce and the 6th century, notably in Rome. They were used by Christian, Jewish, and various pagan communities, all of whom practiced inhumation.

The term catacomb is derived from the Greek name for the area near the church of S. Sebastiano on the Via Appia south of Rome (...

Article

G. van Hemeldonck

Monumental structure of wood, stone, or metal consisting of four or more columns supporting an ornamented roof; this is sometimes a cupola, as in the Byzantine tradition, or it may be pyramidal or a crossover pitched roof. The term is often used synonymously with baldacchino, although, strictly speaking, a ciborium is fixed, frequently on a raised base, while a baldacchino is movable (the most famous example—the ...

Article

Small shrine in an ancient Roman house, dedicated to the household gods.

Article

Lavra  

Group of monks’ cells arranged around a central space that contains a church and sometimes a refectory.

Article

Zachary D. Stewart

Architectural form rarely followed liturgical function in a prescriptive manner during the Middle Ages. Indeed, since the physical demands of liturgical performance were slight, churches of widely divergent size and arrangement often accommodated similar rites. But architecture and liturgy were by no means unrelated phenomena. On the contrary, they shared a single essential purpose, namely the sanctification of space and time. As a result, these two means of ritual signification frequently animated and activated one another, transforming religious buildings into powerful vehicles for sensual and spiritual experience....

Article

Robert Ousterhout

Term referring to a site that bears witness to the Christian faith, such as a significant event in the life and Passion of Christ, the tomb of a saint or martyr, and his or her place of suffering or testimony. It is also used to mean the structure erected over such a site. Monumental martyria form an important category of ...

Article

Damie Stillman

Monumental form of tomb. Its name is derived from one of the most famous buildings of antiquity, the funerary monument completed c. 350 bce at Halikarnassos in Asia Minor (see Halikarnassos, §2) in honor of Mausolos, Satrap of Caria (reg 377–353 bce...

Article

Minaret  

Jonathan M. Bloom

Tower attached to a mosque from which the muezzin gives the call to prayer (Arab. adhān). The English term ‘minaret’ derives (via French) from the Turkish minare, which itself derives from the Arabic manāra, ‘a place or thing that gives light’ (cf. Heb. menorah...

Article

Richard Fawcett, Virginia Jansen, John N. Lupia and Helen Loveday

Group of buildings within which individuals are able to pursue their lives of prayer and self-denial with the moral support afforded by being with like-minded fellows. Although secluded religious communities are found in cultures throughout the world, this article discusses the development of the two principal traditions, Christian and Buddhist....

Article

Mosque  

Muslim house of prayer. Islam requires no physical structure for valid prayer, which may be performed anywhere, and a minimal masjid (‘place of prostration’) may consist only of lines marked on the ground, but a building constructed especially for the purpose is preferred, in particular for congregational prayer at Friday noon, the principal weekly service. Such a building may be called a ...

Article

Ornamental feature suspended from a hammerbeam wooden roof or stone vault (for illustration see Boss, roof).

Article

Jacques Heyman and Francis Woodman

A slender, turret-like projection employed universally as an architectural feature, particularly associated with Gothic architecture from the 13th to the 16th centuries, where it was used decoratively on such features as parapets and gables, and with some structural purpose on buttresses.

Jacques Heyman

A pinnacle placed on a ...

Article

Room, chapel or apse north of the sanctuary in a Byzantine or Greek Orthodox church, used for the storage and preparation of the Eucharist before Mass (for illustration see Parekklesion).

Article

Qum  

Massumeh Farhad

Major shrine centre in central Iran. Sasanian remains in the vicinity suggest that the site may have been occupied in pre-Islamic times, but most medieval geographers and historians claimed that it was founded after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century ad. By 712–13 it had become a bastion for persecuted Shi‛ites, and throughout the medieval period it attracted members of the more extreme Shi‛ite sects. Under the Saljuqs (...

Article

Area behind the high altar in a cathedral or large church.

Article

Sarah Morgan

Type of structure, usually associated with the Early Christian and Eastern Churches, that is found where volcanic rock is soft enough to carve or where natural caves occur. This includes parts of southern Italy (e.g. Basilicata and Apulia), Greece (e.g. Meteora), Turkey (e.g. Cappadocia; ...

Article

Storeroom in a church used for sacred vessels and ecclesiastical vestments.

H. W. van Os: Vecchietta and the Sacristy of the Siena Hospital Church: A Study in Renaissance Religious Symbolism (The Hague, 1974) L. Hamlett: ‘The Sacristy of San Marco, Venice: Form and Function Illuminated’, ...

Article

Elaine DeBenedictis

Term applied to nave chancels in medieval Roman churches on the basis of a supposed association with the eponymous body of papal chanters brought to renown by Pope Gregory I (reg 590–604). This association originates in the misinterpretation of a 16th-century description of S Clemente by Ugonio and was current by the 18th century. Although there is no evidence for the term being used in a topographical sense in the Middle Ages, it is nevertheless possible to trace the changing function and form of nave chancels from the Early Christian period to the 16th century (...