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Author Topic: Rood Screens  (Read 6936 times) Average Rating: 0
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Shlomlokh
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« on: July 09, 2009, 12:10:10 PM »

Hello all!

Hope everyone is doing well. I have a question about rood screens. If I understand correctly, they held the same function as the iconostas does in the East, correct? Do any Western Rite parishes have them? If so, can you please share pictures?

Thanks!

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2009, 01:15:59 PM »

When and why rood screens got out of fashion?
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2009, 01:43:29 PM »

We've gone over this from time to time, but what the heck, this will make it easier for people to find the answer:

There is a superficial similarity between the rood screen and the iconostasis, but but the screen doesn't have any liturgical function. If you take the classic tripartite medieval church, the screen separates the choir and the nave; the iconostasis, however, divides the church at what it the west would be the line between the sanctuary and the choir, where in a classical Anglican church there would be the altar rail. The screen divides the "east" end of the church into a separate subchapel for use in office services by the clerics and religious. This particularly is evident in a monastic church, where the brothers/sisters occupy the choir; the screen in this case marks the division between the enclosed monastery and the outer world. The screen also allowed the nave to be used a secular (or at least non-worship) meeting hall.

When the whole church was in use for a single worship (e.g. Sunday mass) the screen was largely useless, if not an actual impediment. It has never had any liturgical functions, though in medieval churches it might have altars set up against it for votive masses. Renaissance and Baroque churches omitted it, as did Anglican Georgian churches. These churches generally adopted a plan in which the choir (now composed of singers rather than clerics) was in a gallery in the back, and the pulpit (for Anglicans) or altar (for Catholics) was emphasized. When the gothic revival came along, well, gotrhic churches had screens, so by God, neogothic churches needed to have screens too. The problem was that after 250 years, nobody now knew what they were for, and indeed, the church culture and practice had changed so that the screen was of no use at all.  So some people figured this out, and constructed buildings which kept the tripartite arrangement but omitted the screen; and some people kept the screen but fused it with the altar rail (by this point a universal fixture); and some particularly rock-headed types put it in its tradition location. To take a particularly perverse example, Frohman not only put a big screen in the national cathedral, but canted the choir slightly, so there is no place you can see the high altar from except the choir and one end of the west end gallery.

The rood itself (which wasn't necessarily part of the screen) had devotional functions, particularly on Good Friday. The regular eucharistic and office liturgies made no reference to it, however.
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Shlomlokh
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2009, 06:05:45 PM »

We've gone over this from time to time, but what the heck, this will make it easier for people to find the answer:

There is a superficial similarity between the rood screen and the iconostasis, but but the screen doesn't have any liturgical function. If you take the classic tripartite medieval church, the screen separates the choir and the nave; the iconostasis, however, divides the church at what it the west would be the line between the sanctuary and the choir, where in a classical Anglican church there would be the altar rail. The screen divides the "east" end of the church into a separate subchapel for use in office services by the clerics and religious. This particularly is evident in a monastic church, where the brothers/sisters occupy the choir; the screen in this case marks the division between the enclosed monastery and the outer world. The screen also allowed the nave to be used a secular (or at least non-worship) meeting hall.

When the whole church was in use for a single worship (e.g. Sunday mass) the screen was largely useless, if not an actual impediment. It has never had any liturgical functions, though in medieval churches it might have altars set up against it for votive masses. Renaissance and Baroque churches omitted it, as did Anglican Georgian churches. These churches generally adopted a plan in which the choir (now composed of singers rather than clerics) was in a gallery in the back, and the pulpit (for Anglicans) or altar (for Catholics) was emphasized. When the gothic revival came along, well, gotrhic churches had screens, so by God, neogothic churches needed to have screens too. The problem was that after 250 years, nobody now knew what they were for, and indeed, the church culture and practice had changed so that the screen was of no use at all.  So some people figured this out, and constructed buildings which kept the tripartite arrangement but omitted the screen; and some people kept the screen but fused it with the altar rail (by this point a universal fixture); and some particularly rock-headed types put it in its tradition location. To take a particularly perverse example, Frohman not only put a big screen in the national cathedral, but canted the choir slightly, so there is no place you can see the high altar from except the choir and one end of the west end gallery.

The rood itself (which wasn't necessarily part of the screen) had devotional functions, particularly on Good Friday. The regular eucharistic and office liturgies made no reference to it, however.


How fascinating! Were there statues or paintings on the rood? Also, are they particularly rare? I'd be curious to see if Western-Rite parishes are implementing them.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2009, 06:47:13 PM »

If I remember correctly the question was asked not long ago , and I think the answer was that they don't have the money or space Smiley



and yes they did at times have statues ect...



In Jesus and Mary

David
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2009, 03:21:13 PM »

Depending upon whom you believe, there is not a single surviving medieval rood (that is, the statuary part) in England. There are lots of screens which survive, and some pre-neoGothic churches have screens without roods (one source claims that the BCP required this, which I think is untrue). The neoGothic builders were all over the map.

The abolition of the rood itself, but not the screen, points to some of what's going on here. The screen itself is said, like the iconostasis, to derive from the templon, an arcade dividing the chancel from the nave. This is, I think, quite plausible. But the direction the evolution took is quite different. The iconostasis came down from the templon beam and covered its opening, and came to play a direct part in every liturgy. The rood, by contrast, rose above the screen, and served partly as an object of special devotions at times, but more often as a stage. Although it was usually physically integrated with the screen, it was not, in terms of how it appeared in liturgical use, coupled to the screen. When the reformation iconoclasts came along, they objected to the rood as an object of devotion, and destroyed or defaced it; but they often as not left the screen alone.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 03:21:49 PM by Keble » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2011, 01:19:08 AM »

I understand that monastic churches would often have two screens.
At the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Florida in West Wales (nr Tregaron), it is believed that (if I remember correctly) there was a rood screen at the end of the nave before the crossing, and a pulpitum at the arch leading in to the Sanctuary (may be the other way round).

I also remember reading that Durham Cathedral used to maintain three screens, though I guess one was probably a glorified altar rail. Would be interesting to look into though. Durham is a strange place, I understand the Bishop's throne there is higher than any other, not to mention it is built on a bridge over a tomb.
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2011, 01:23:03 AM »

I understand that monastic churches would often have two screens.
At the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Florida in West Wales (nr Tregaron), it is believed that (if I remember correctly) there was a rood screen at the end of the nave before the crossing, and a pulpitum at the arch leading in to the Sanctuary (may be the other way round).

I also remember reading that Durham Cathedral used to maintain three screens, though I guess one was probably a glorified altar rail. Would be interesting to look into though. Durham is a strange place, I understand the Bishop's throne there is higher than any other, not to mention it is built on a bridge over a tomb.

Sorry about the image size. It would appear that there was no second screen. I did think there was a further rood screen before the steps up to the High Altar.
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