Glossary

Ablutions - Liturgical and ceremonial cleansing of the paten and chalice with water, or with water and wine, following the communion of the people at the Holy Communion. If the consecrated bread and wine are not reserved for later use, they are consumed by the ordained and lay ministers of the eucharist either after the communion of the people or after the dismissal. The ablutions may also include the cleaning of the celebrant's fingers before and after communion, depending on the liturgical custom of the congregation.

Alb - A long white garment with narrow sleeves, which is the basic garment worn by ordained and lay ministers at the eucharist and at other church services. The alb (from Latin alba, meaning white) is derived from the undertunic of the Greeks and Romans of the fourth century. It may be girded at the waist with a cincture.

Ambit - The scope, extent, or bounds of something. In this customary, ambit is used to describe the area surrounding the altar.

Amice - A rectangular piece of white cloth that may serve as a hood or be rolled down to serve as the collar of an alb. The amice is tied beneath the alb by attached strings.

Aumbry - A cupboard or secure receptacle in the side wall of the sanctuary or sacristy. Aumbries traditionally have been used to keep sacred vessels, books, reliquaries, and oils for anointing. Aumbries may also be used for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.

Bason - A plate, basket, or other container used to collect and present the alms given by the congregation.

Burse - A case of two squares of stiff material, hinged or bound together at one end, which contains the corporal and purificators for use at the celebration of the eucharist. The burse is covered in the liturgical color of the day, and placed on top of the veil which covers the chalice.

Cassock - A long, close-fitting garment with narrow sleeves worn by clergy and other ministers. Cassocks are typically black but also may be blue, gray, or red. Bishops may wear purple cassocks. It may be worn under a surplice. Historically, the cassock was the street garb of a person in clerical orders. It was part of the outdoor dress of Anglican clergy until the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Cathedra - Official seat or throne of the bishop in the cathedral of the diocese. The cathedra is considered to be the oldest insignia of the bishop's authority to preside over the church in the diocese. Historically, the bishop preached the sermon and presided at the eucharist from the cathedra, which was located in the center of the apse behind the altar.

Chalice - The cup for the wine that is consecrated and administered at the eucharist. The chalice normally has a footed base. It is appropriate for only one chalice to be on the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, but additional chalices may be filled with consecrated wine as needed after the breaking of the bread. The chalice usually matches the paten, which is the plate or dish for the consecrated bread. chalices are typically made of silver, or other precious or semi-precious metals, and may be decorated by jewels or engraved designs.

Chancel - Area of the church set apart for the altar, lectern, pulpit, credence table, and seats for officiating and assisting ministers. It may also include the choir. The chancel is typically raised somewhat above the level of the nave, where the congregation gathers. The chancel may be separated from the nave by a low screen, rail, or open space. In some churches, the congregation may gather on three sides or in a semicircle around the chancel.

Cincture - A rope-like or ribbon-like article sometimes worn with certain liturgical vestments, encircling the body around or above the waist. There are two types of cinctures: one is a rope-like narrow girdle or rope-like belt around the waist. The other type is a broad ribbon of cloth that runs around the waist and usually has a section that hangs down from the waist; this type is often called a "band cincture". As a matter of customary terminology, the term cincture is most often applied to a long, rope-like cord with tasseled or knotted ends, tied around the waist outside the alb. The colour may be white, or may vary according to the colour of the liturgical season. Also called a girdle.

Cope - The cope (known in Latin as pluviale 'rain coat' or cappa 'cape') is a liturgical vestment, more precisely a long mantle or cloak, open in front and fastened at the breast with a band or clasp. It may be of any liturgical colour. A cope may be worn by any rank of the clergy, and also by lay ministers in certain circumstances. If worn by a bishop, it is generally accompanied by a mitre. The clasp, which is often highly ornamented, is called a morse.

Corporal - A square white linen cloth, now usually somewhat smaller than the breadth of the altar, upon which the chalice and paten, and also the ciborium containing the smaller hosts for the Communion of the laity, are placed during the celebration of the Eucharist.

Credence - A small side table in the sanctuary which is used in the celebration of the Eucharist. (from the Latin credens, -entis, believer). The credence table is usually placed near the wall on the epistle (south) side of the sanctuary, and may be covered with a fine linen cloth. It contains on it the implements that are used in the Eucharistic celebration, which may include the bread and wine prior to their consecration, a bowl, perforated spoon, ewer and towel for the lavabo and the ablutions after Holy Communion, etc. The wafers for the communion of the faithful may be stored in a ciborium, or host box (sometimes erroneously referred to as a pyx). The wine and water for the chalice will be in cruets. The chalice, and paten, covered with their cloths and veil (see chalice cloths for details) may be placed on the credence from the beginning of the service until the Offertory, at which time they are moved to the altar.

Dalmatic - The distinctive vestment of deacons in the western church. It may be worn at any liturgy in any season. The term is derived from a white tunic worn in second-century Dalmatia. The dalmatic was an ample white tunic with wide sleeves, bands about the cuffs, and clavi, or colored bands, descending from the shoulders to the hem. Historically, it was worn over an alb by both bishops and deacons by the fourth century, but it did not become a vestment until around the ninth century. The dalmatic was accepted as the vestment worn by the deacon at the eucharist by the ninth century. Eventually deacons adopted the eastern orarion or stole, worn on top and hanging straight down from the left shoulder. Over the centuries the dalmatic, like other vestments, lost its full shape. The stole disappeared beneath the outer garment. By the late middle ages, deacons (or, more commonly, priests acting as liturgical deacons) were wearing a short dalmatic in the color of the day, ornate in fabric, adorned with orphreys (two vertical and two horizontal), with narrow sleeves, and open at the sides. The dalmatic has varied widely in appearance, and this variety continues in the Episcopal Church today.

Footpace - The topmost level of the platform on which the altar sits. Also called a pradella.

Maniple - A eucharistic vestment, typically an oblong band of silk or linen, worn above the left wrist. The maniple is usually of the same color and material as the eucharistic stole. Its earliest use was as a handkerchief held in the left hand. It later became an ornament of secular rank. Although it may have had practical uses at one time, it also came to be a symbol of rank in the church. It was associated with subdeacons and higher orders of clergy.

Mensa - A flat stone inlay or other solid material that forms the top of an altar. The term is from the Latin for "table."

Narthex - An entry space, foyer, or anteroom of a church between the door and the nave. The term is from the Greek for a "small case." Historically, the narthex was an enclosed vestibule or porch of a basilica. Catechumens and penitents stood in the narthex during the service. It also may serve as a place for the gathering and formation of processions and a place for people to wait before services begin.

Nave - The place in the church building for the congregation. It is between the sanctuary and the narthex or entry of the church building. The term may be derived from the Latin navis, "ship," which was an early symbol of the church.

Pall - A square, stiffened white linen cloth that is used to cover the chalice at the eucharist. There may be a design on the side of the pall that does not touch the chalice.

Paten - A shallow dish or small plate for the bread at the eucharist. The bread is placed on the paten for consecration and distribution. It typically matches the chalice. The paten should be large enough to hold all the wafers or pieces of bread that will be distributed at communion.

Pavement - The floor of the sanctuary around the altar platform, but not including the platform steps or footpace.

Quire - The area of the chancel that contains stalls for seating the choir.

Sedilia - This triple seat in the sanctuary of a church is for the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon at solemn Mass. It is usually a bench with a back divided into thirds. In some stone churches the sedilia are incorporated into the north wall of the sanctuary.

Stole - A liturgical vestment worn by ordained clergy consisting of a band of colored cloth, formerly usually of silk, about seven and a half to nine feet long and three to four inches wide, whose ends may be straight or may broaden out. The center of the stole is worn around the back of the neck and the two ends hang down parallel to each other in front, either attached to each other or hanging loose. The stole is almost always decorated in some way, usually with a cross or some other significant religious design. It is often decorated with contrasting galloons (ornamental trim) and fringe is usually applied to the ends of the stole following Numbers 15:38-39.

Torch - Candles mounted on poles for use in the liturgy. Lighted torches may be carried by acolytes or servers in procession, including the gospel procession. Torches may be placed near the altar and the ambo or lectern. Torches are used to enhance the solemnity and festivity of worship.

Tunicle - A distinctive vestment of subdeacons in the western church resembling the dalmatic, with only one horizontal orphrey. The term is from the Latin tunicula, which is the diminutive of tunica, "tunic."

Veil - A square cloth that covers the paten and chalice until preparation of the altar for communion. The veil usually matches the vestments and altar hangings in the liturgical color of the season. It is draped over the pall, which is a white square placed on top of the paten, purificator, and chalice. The burse, which usually contains the corporal and purificators, is placed on top of the veil. After the ablutions following communion, the veil may once again be placed over the paten and chalice. The term has also indicated a linen covering that was placed over the unconsumed elements of the eucharist after communion.