Sedilia (the plural of Latin sedile, seat), in ecclesiastical architecture, the term given to the seats on the south side of the chancel near the altar for the use of the officiating priests. They are generally three in number, for the priest, deacon and sub-deacon. The custom of recessing them in the thickness of the wall began about the end of the 12th century; some early examples consist only of stone benches, and there is one instance of a single seat or arm-chair in stone at Lenham in Kent, thought by some to be a confessional. The niches or recesses in which they are sunk are often richly decorated with canopies and subdivided with moulded shafts, pinnacles and tabernacle work; the seats are sometimes at different levels, the eastern being always the highest, and sometimes an additional niche is provided in which the piscina is placed.

Being the entry for SEDILIA in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

Se*dil"i*a (?), n. pl.; sing. Sedile (). [L. sedile a seat.] Arch.

Seats in the chancel of a church near the altar for the officiating clergy during intervals of service.

Hook.

 

© Webster 1913.

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