Narthex

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The '''narthex''' is an entrance area to a [[church]], located at the western end of the [[nave]]. At the opposite (eastern) end of the nave is the [[altar]].
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==Early churches==
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Many early churches were built in the form of the old Roman [[basilica]]. Entrance to the western end of the church was through an outside area called the [[atrium]] into the narthex. The narthex was either an external structure similar to a porch or inside as a part of the nave but separated from it by a screen or rail. The narthex was used by [[catechumen]]s and [[penitent]]s who were not admitted into the nave. Often a baptismal font was also placed in the narthex.
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==Orthodox churches==
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Traditionally, this vestibule serves as a buffer between the world and the Kingdom as represented by the church building proper. There are also certain rites which are conducted in this part of the church, such as the [[exorcism]]s which precede the [[sacrament]] of [[Baptism]], the [[Marriage#Office_of_betrothal|betrothal]] at weddings, and in some Orthodox communities the prayers of [[churching]] after birth. On designated occasions certain [[Vespers|Vesperal]] prayers and rites are also celebrated here.
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Most often in this this area, the faithful offer a brief prayer, buy a candle and then enter the [[nave]] to venerate the [[icons]] prior to joining the congregation.
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==Western churches==
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In time the atrium passed into disuse and reforms ended the exclusion of those who were not full members of the church. After this, the nature of the narthex changed to that of a vestibule or a porch. In some church buildings even the vestiges of the narthex disappeared, with entrance to the nave of the church occurring immediately upon entering.
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==External links==
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*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narthex  Wikipedia: Narthex]
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*[http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10704b.htm  Catholic Encyclopedia: Narthex]
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[[Category:Church architecture]]
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Revision as of 03:41, June 10, 2008

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