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Author Topic: What is a "Sanctuary"?  (Read 754 times) Average Rating: 0
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Eugenio
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« on: November 17, 2008, 11:38:18 PM »

So, I was reading a topic (that has recently been locked) called "Women in the Sanctuary."

And now I'm very confused on terminology. I think the poster who asked the question referred to the area behind the iconostasis as "the sanctuary."

Now, as an Orthodox convert coming from a western church background, this use of terminology is bewildering. When you enter a western church and talk about the "sanctuary" you're talking about the place where the laity or churchgoers sit. In other words, you worship in the "sanctuary." As opposed to the Fellowship Hall, or the Kitchen, or the other areas of a church building that are not intended for worship.

As for that part up at the front of an Orthodox Church where only the priest and altar boys go, I've only referred to it as "that area behind the iconostasis" or even "the altar".

Is "sanctuary" really the correct word here for English speakers?
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FodderJohn
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 11:50:24 PM »

The sanctuary is indeed the area behind the iconostasis and the area where the faithful sit/stand is called the nave.

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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2008, 11:54:24 PM »

Welcome to the forum FodderJohn!!! username! section moderator
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Elisha
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2008, 03:03:59 AM »

Yes, the area behind the iconostasis is the sanctuary.  Only non-liturgical Protestant churches call the worship area the sanctuary.  Orthodox, Anglicans, Roman Catholics and High Church Lutherans would call it the Nave (as from Navy - a ship, because the church is the Ark of Salvation, riding the stormy seas of life).  Sometimes, western churches call the sanctuary area the "chancel".  They also frequently call the entrance way the Vestibule instead of the Narthex.
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Tags: altar sanctuary iconostasis 
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