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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. ad 200 and the 6th century, notably in Rome. They were used by Christian, Jewish, and some pagan communities.

The term catacomb is derived from the Greek name for the area near the church of S Sebastiano on the Via Appia, some 5 km 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 bc at Halikarnassos in Asia Minor (see Halikarnassos, §2) in honour of Mausolos, Satrap of Caria (reg 377–353 bc...

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...