Vatican Splendors Glossary
“Vatican Splendors: A Journey through Faith and Art”
A white linen vestment with close fitting sleeves, reaching nearly to the ground and secured round the waist by a girdle (cincture).
A hanging suspended over and in front of the altar.
The semicircular or polygonal termination to the choir or aisles of a church.
A dome-like canopy in wood, stone, or metal, erected over the high altar of larger churches. (Baldacchino is late medieval form.)
An early modern style of art and architecture which followed upon the Renaissance and was prevalent in Roman Catholic countries.
A sculpture executed upon and attached to a flat surface.
An early Christian church building consisting of nave and aisles with clerestory and a large high transept from which an apse projects. A Roman Catholic Church with papal privileges.
Official papal recognition of a deceased Christian of heroic virtue as someone fit for eventual consideration as a saint. Such a man or woman is called a “blessed” and is allowed limited religious veneration.
A term describing the Greek Orthodox Church and the former Eastern Roman Empire centered in Constantinople (Istanbul). Byzantine art emphasized stylized figures based on Christian themes and executed in rich colors, especially with gold backgrounds, and an architectural style that included round arches, domes, mosaics, and church floor plans in the shape of a Greek cross with four equidistant arms.
Measuring instruments having two usually adjustable arms, legs or jaws used especially to measure diameter or thickness.
A papal declaration that a deceased Christian is a saint in heaven and is to be venerated by the Universal Church as such.
A book for instruction in the teachings of the Church for the faithful and those preparing for initiation into the Christian community.
The chair or throne of a bishop in his cathedral church, on which he presides at solemn functions.
A large cup that is used at Mass to hold the wine that becomes the blood of Jesus Christ.
A sleeveless outer vestment covering the stole and the alb (part of the proper garb of the priest during Mass). Colors vary depending on the season of the Church.
A canopy of stone, wood or marble supported on four columns over an altar, or the chalice-like vessel or bowl that contains the Host used in the liturgical celebration of the Mass.
Ordained ministers of the church who are constituted in a hierarchy of Holy Orders beginning from deacon and advancing to priest and finally to bishop.
Consecration, in general, is an act by which a thing is separated from a common and profane to a sacred use, or by which a person or thing is dedicated to the service and worship of God by prayers, rites, and ceremonies. In the Catholic Church, it is the act of an ordained priest speaking the Words of Institution (Verba Domini) over the bread and the wine at Mass.
A gathering of bishops for the purposes of examination and deliberation of matters of doctrine and practice. The Catholic Church counts twenty-one ecumenical or universal councils from the Council of Jerusalem recorded in the New Testament to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
Crosier or Pastoral Staff
Staff resembling a shepherd’s crook carried by bishops and abbots as a symbol of their office. The staff used by the Popes Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI is topped with a crucifix.
Pitcher-like vessels that contain water or wine at Mass.
The outer liturgical vestment of the deacon.
Of or relating to a church especially as an established institution.
A movable folding chair used in pontifical functions by the bishop outside of his cathedral, or within it if he is not at his throne or cathedra.
Created over 12 years, bronze central doors for the old Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, cast by Antonio di Pietro Averlino (c. 1400 – c. 1469), dubbed Filarete (Greek “lover of virtue”), a Florentine architect and sculptor. Filarete’s doors were preserved when Old Saint Peter’s was demolished and reinstalled in the new Saint Peter’s Basilica.
The art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments.
Wood overlaid with or as if with a thin covering of gold.
A person, usually a soldier, who holds a halberd, a weapon of the 15th and 16th centuries having an ax-like blade and a steel spike mounted on the end of a long shaft. It is associated with uniform of the Papal Swiss Guard.
The Holy Door or ‘Porta Sancta’ is only open during a Holy Year (Jubilee), which normally occurs every 25 years, but which the Pope can call as he sees fit. On the first day of a holy year, the Pope strikes the brick wall with a silver hammer and opens it to the pilgrims. During the most recent Jubilee in 2000, the traditional opening of the doors with the beating of hammers was replaced by the pushing of hands. The message imparted by the Holy Door is that God’s mercy reaches out to mankind’s frailty.
A sacred image. Icons, like the saints that they most often represent, are proper subjects of veneration. Iconography is the study of icons.
The baptized faithful understood as the people of God. The term normally distinguishes the large mass of the ordinary faithful from the ordained clergy (bishops, priests and deacons).
The first word of that portion of Psalm 25 said by the celebrant at Mass while he washes his hands after the Offertory, from which word the whole ceremony is named.
Rites and ceremonies prescribed by the Church for communal worship.
Originally a word meaning a witness to the faith, it came to mean someone whose witness is given at the cost of his or her life. Martyrdom refers to the act of someone losing their life for the faith.
The central liturgy of the Catholic Church consisting of the celebration and preaching of the Word followed by the solemn offering of thanksgiving (Eucharist) in which bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ to be received by the faithful. The name is derived from the final words of the celebrant in Latin, ite, missa est (“Go, having been sent”).
Mosaics that use particularly small pieces of glass or enamel-type material to create small images.
A book containing all the texts for Mass for a whole year.
A liturgical headdress worn by bishops and abbots.
A surface decoration made by inlaying small pieces (tesserae) of variously colored material to form pictures or patterns.
Architecturally the central, open space of a church, west of the choir or chancel, and formerly separated by a low wall or screen. It is, in generally terms, the part of the church where the laity congregates.
A cemetery. The ancient Vatican Necropolis buried underneath the Basilica of Saint Peter is also referred to as the Scavi (‘Excavations’).
A place of prayer, or a structure other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass.
A round metal container which holds unconsecrated hosts used for the Mass.
The modern pallium is a circular band (made with lamb wool) about two inches wide, worn about the neck, breast and shoulders, and having two pendants – one hanging down in front and one behind. It is worn only by the pope and archbishops.
The leaden seals with which papal and royal documents were authenticated in the early Middle Ages; also applied to the document itself.
A saucer-like dish that matches the chalice used on the altar for the host (bread) that becomes the body of Christ during Mass.
Mosaic made with or decorated in several colors.
The bishop of Rome who has jurisdiction as universal pastor in the Roman Catholic Church. His official titles are “Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City-State, and Servant of the Servants of God.”
Some object, notably part of the body or clothes, remaining as a memorial of a departed saint.
A container that stores and displays the bones and other remains of the saints. It is usually made of gold or silver and encrusted with gems to signify that saints are more precious than any material object.
The transitional movement in Europe between medieval and modern times beginning in the 14th century in Italy, lasting into the 17th century, and marked by a humanistic revival of classical influence expressed in a flowering of the arts and literature and by the beginnings of modern science.
A stone coffin, literally, a “flesh-eater.”
A place of burial, or a receptacle for religious relics, especially in an altar.
Circular paintings or sculptured medallions.
A rectangular space inserted between the apse and nave in the early Christian basilica.
Of or relating to the Roman Catholic Church council held at Trent from 1545 to 1563 or its decrees.
Respect or awe inspired by the dignity, wisdom, dedication or talent of a person, In Catholic and Orthodox teaching, it is a term that distinguishes the honor given to saints in distinction to the honor given to God alone, which is called adoration.
Consisting of or expressing a vow, wish or desire. The related expression, ex voto, means “from the vow” and refers to an offering left at a shrine in supplication for aid or in thanksgiving for favors already received.
The small, round skullcap of the ecclesiastic.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent (newadvent.org)
Emily McCrater, Museum of Art I Fort Lauderdale
Duree Ross, Duree & Company, Inc.