brought to you by Allan Gillis
I dedicate this entry to my esteemed friend and a contributor David Trumbull, who always challenged his friends and acquaintances to learn such things – and to understand the importance of architecture and it’s ramifications on culture and the culture’s impact on it; as a science and/or an art. – thank you David!
I invite you to visit and explore! www.stpeterslist.com
10 Architectural Terms All Catholics Should Know
Listers, the following is a list of basic architectural terms that imports the vocabulary necessary to understand the sacred tradition of Catholic architecture. Too many Catholic churches have suffered under ephemeral and malformed modernist cultural trends, resulting in embarrassing and fatuous structures. Let us remember and return to the rich architectural traditions of both the East and the West.
The following terms were taken from the architectural section of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception website.
A covered walkway or aisle that makes the circuit of the nave and apses of the Upper Church, with chapels radiating to the east, the west, and to the north.
The vaulted, semi-circular areas to the east, west and north of the sanctuary in the Upper Church.
Baldachin [baldacchin, baldachino, baldaquin]
The free-standing canopy of four columns and arches above the altar in the sanctuary of the Upper Church. The term comes from the Spanish baldaquin or the Italian baldacco, which refers to the lavish brocaded material imported from Baghdad and hung as a canopy over an altar or doorway. The term also applies to the canopy used in Eucharistic processions and to that which covers the episcopal throne or cathedra. The most famous of baldachins is that of Bernini (1598-1680) in the Basilica of St. Peter.
Chancel In the Upper Church it is the area between the baldachin altar and the main altar.
That part of the Shrine, which would be a second “story” and “clear” of the floor, thereby allowing an unobstructed view of the roof. The large windows above the nave are Clerestory Windows.
Spans the width of the narthex, the length of the nave and the chancel area. Located in the south gallery above the narthex are the Rose Window (Ave Maria), the South Gallery Organ (1965 by M. P. Möller, Op. 9702) and the bank of pontifical trumpets; in the east and west nave and the chancel galleries are the clerestory windows; in the west chancel gallery is the Chancel Organ (Möller, Op. 9702).
The area of the church extending across the south side, between the nave and the vestibule. In former days, it was the area reserved for the penitents and catechumens.
From the Latin navis for “ship.” The central open space of the church, traditionally for the worshipping community. It is believed that in early Christianity, the symbolism of the ship related to St. Peter or the Ark of Noah.
The area in which the baldachin altar is located.
A rectangular area which cuts across the main axis of the building. It gives the Shrine the shape of a Latin cross.
The area between the main outer doors and the main inner doors which lead into the narthex.