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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 4th century ad the main features of the rite had become remarkably consistent throughout the Roman Empire: Easter eve was recognized as the most appropriate moment, although baptism might take place at Pentecost or if the candidate were ...


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.

The earliest Christian monasteries, in Egypt and Palestine, were hardly more than gatherings of separately housed hermits who sought little from each other beyond the knowledge that they were among brethren whose aims were identical with their own. It was perhaps inevitable that the Edict of Milan of ad 313, by which the Church was given official standing within the Roman Empire, should lead to major changes and the beginnings of an organized format for the monastic life, devised c. 320 by St Pachomius and later by St Basil (d 379).

Western monasticism owes the basis of its medieval development to a Rule compiled ...



[Arab. masjid]

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 masjid or a jāmi (Turk. cami), from masjid al-jāmi‛ (Pers. masjid-i jāmi‛; Urdu jāmi‛ masjid), meaning ‘congregational mosque’. This term is often rendered in English as ‘great mosque’, or ‘Friday mosque’, a translation of masjid-i juma‛, a Persian variant. The word masjid may also be applied to any place where prayer is appropriate, for example the Masjid al-Haram, the enclosed area around the Ka‛ba in Mecca. Large buildings constructed for other religious purposes, such as madrasas and khānaqāhs, usually contain prayer-halls arranged like free-standing mosques. In cities throughout the Islamic world, the daily needs of the residents of particular quarters have been served by small mosques; they are often reduced versions of the major types of mosque that were most popular locally at the time of their construction. This article is concerned primarily with major structures built specifically for congregational prayer. For further bibliography and information on mosques in other types of buildings, ...


Gordon Campbell

Ornamental glass shade for an oil lamp, designed to be hung in a mosque. It is usually shaped like a vase, with a bulbous body, a flared neck, a flat base, and applied glass loops from which it was suspended. The form emerged in late 13th-century Syria, and many of the finest examples come from Syria and Egypt. From the 16th century mosque lamps were made in Europe (notably Venice) and exported to the Islamic world.

The inscriptions on mosque lamps generally mention the donor and include the opening lines of the ‘Verse of Light’ in the Qur'an (24.35), which likens God, the light of the heavens and the earth, to a glass lamp. Over a dozen mosque lamps from the three reigns of al-Nasir Muhammad (reg 1294–1340 with interruptions) represent the summit of 14th-century enamelled glass. A band of tall script at the neck with blue lettering on a gilded ground decorated with polychrome scrolls, leaves and buds contrasts with another band on the body inscribed with gold letters on a blue ground with scattered gold blossoms. At least 50 lamps inscribed with the Light Verse and the name of Hasan (...


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; see Cappadocia §2, (i), (a); and Beşparmak), Cyprus (St Neophytos Monastery), Ethiopia (e.g. Lalibela), Georgia (David Garedzhi), Romania (Basarabi-Murfatlar), Bulgaria (e.g. Ivanovo), and the Crimea (near Chersonesos). The churches and dwelling places created in these areas survive in a variety of forms: part-natural cave, part-built, or wholly carved from the rock, with some churches so carefully shaped and finished as to resemble built architecture. From the Early Christian period caves and rock-cut dwellings were popular with hermits and saints as retreats. In some cases communities formed around a saintly figure, and monasteries were established with living spaces, refectories, chapels, and occasionally a larger congregational church. Several texts of saints’ lives, such as that of ...