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Letter "C" Glossary

campanile — Italian term for bell towers usually designed as free-standing structures within a complex of ecclesiastical architecture usually formed by a cathedral, baptistry and bell tower (Pisa).

canopy — A small ornamental covering often projecting above a statue. A larger covering above an altar or throne may be called a baldachin, baldacchino or cibroium.

capital (from Latin, capitellum, "little head") - The uppermost member of a column often carved in a decorative manner and conforming to one of the architectural orders.

catacomb — Subterranean, often labyrinthine, burial complexes containing passageways and individual chambers (cubiculum, pl. cubicula) with recesses (loculi) for sarchophagi (coffins) used during the Roman Empire for both Roman and Christian burials. During periods of persecution, Christians held religious services in the catacombs which offered a measure of security due to the location below ground. Catacombs are sometimes decorated with both pagan and Christian frescoes.

cathedral — Christian churches that have an episcopal form of government, where the cathedral is the primary church in a diocese or the seat of a diocesan bishop, archbishop, primate, patriarch, or pope. In Italy, a cathedral is called the "duomo," not to be confused with dome which in Italian is "cupola."

cathedra — the throne of a ruling bishop in a cathedral.

center — The mid-point between the intercolumniation or span and the top of the rise of an arch.

centering — Temporary construction, usually of wood, over which arches and vaults are constructed and kept in place until the arch or vault become self-supporting.

centralized plan — A building designed with lateral spaces of equal length and a symmetrical central space. A centrally-planned building may be based on the square, circle, or polygon. The principal focus is the central open space.

chalice — Ecclesiastical drinking vessels for eucharistic wine having a stem, often with a central knob, and a foot used for ceremonial purposes during religious services. Chalices are often made of valuable metals such as gold or gilt silver and adorned with precious or semi-precious stones.

chalk — A fine-grained limestone, or soft, earthy form of calcium carbonate, that can be used as a building material.

champlevé — Enameling process involving indentations or cells carved in a metal surface leaving a raised line that forms the outline of the design. The enamel powder or paste is laid in the cells, fired, and then filed and polished.

chancel — The space in a Christian church containing the high altar and reserved for the use of the clergy, including the apse or hemicycle and choir.

chancel arch — The monumental arch marking the separation of the chancel (choir and apse or hemicycle) from the nave.

chancel screen — Partitions set up in religious buildings, especially in Byzantine and Early Christian churches, to separate the chancel (choir and apse or hemicycle) from the main body of the church.

chapel — Rooms, ancillary spaces or independent buildings that serve as sanctuaries or places of Christian worship usually containing an altar. A chapel may serve public or private worship and be part of a church, palace, or monastery. Private chapels are usually supported by individual families who use the space for funerary purposes including tombs and masses performed for the dead.

chapter house — A meeting place for the chapter or governing body of a monastery or a cathedral.

chartreuse — A monastery of the Carthusian order.

château — French word for a castle or fortified dwelling.

chevron — Simple geometric forms used for decorative purposes composed of V-shaped elements used singly, in a vertical series, or in a string to form a zigzag pattern.

choir — The space in a basilican church plan located between the crossing and the apse, reserved for choristers and clergy. Sometimes referred to as the chancel.

choir screen — Wall-like screens, often decorated, in Christian churches built to separate the choir from the nave and aisles of a church.

ciborium — Roofed structures supported by four or more columns, often built of marble or bronze, built over an altar to focus attention on the center of ceremonial proceedings.

cinquefoil — framing devices composed of five equal arcs or lobes, separated by cusps.

clerestory — Literally, a clear story. In a basilican church, the uppermost section of the nave wall, located above the triforium, and rising above the roofs covering the lateral aisles, pierced by a row of windows to admit light into the nave. Clerestory windows often contain stained glass depicting Old and New Testament subjects.

cloisonné — Enameling technique using a design laid down in thin metal strips on a metal or porcelain ground, forming chambers (cloisons) to hold the enamel paste or powder, which is then fired.

cloister — Enclosed spaces composed of a garth (garden) and surrounding walkways, which are generally arcaded on the courtyard side (facing the garden) and walled on the other; usually found in Christian religious building complexes such as monasteries and used for contemplative purposes.

cloister garden — refers to Medieval gardens, generally found in monasteries, often formally arranged with planters and boxed sections, and often with a well or fountain in the center.

codex (pl. codices) — A manuscript organized with sewn-in signatures in the form of a book, with a spine and often a cover sometimes highly decorated with gold, ivory and precious or semi-precious stones. The codex form replaced the scroll as the most common form of manuscript in the Early Christian period. Hand-written and painted (illuminated) manuscripts were produced in scriptoria throughout the Middle Ages.

coffer — Recessed panels, usually square or octagonal, set into wood or masonry ceilings, vaults, or soffits serving a decorative function but also used to lighten or reduce the mass of the ceiling or vault.

colonnette — Slender column attached to a supporting column or pier in Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

column — Cylindrical, upright masonry architectural elements usually comprised of three sections: a base, capital, and shaft supporting an entablature. Columns arranged in rows form a colonnade. The distance between each column is called the intercolumniation.

compound or composite pier — Vertical supporting structural elements composed of several engaged (or attached) columns or pilasters grouped around a central core exhibiting a complex profile or shape characteristic of Gothic architecture.

conch — Semicircular niches covered with a semi-dome in the form of a fluted conch shell (based on the spiral shell of gastropods).

conch dome — Multi-ribbed domes resembling the form of a melon found especially in Byzantine and Islamic architecture. Also called a pumpkin dome or melon dome.

confessio — A type of crypt which consists of a series of linked passages sometimes containing altars and relics. The most famous confessio crypt during the Middle Ages was that of Old Saint Peter's church in Rome, which contained the tomb of Saint Peter located on the spot where he was martyred.

corbel — Cantilevered masonry blocks or arches used singly or in ranges to support architectural or ornamental features or used in successive courses to form arches, domes, or vaults usually along the line of a roof.

corbel table — Projecting masonry courses supported by a range of corbels in the form of blocks or arches, or ranges of corbels supporting cornices or other projecting courses, or groups of corbels and projecting courses found especially in early Medieval architecture.

crenellation (from old French, crenel, a notch) — Fortified parapets (low walls along the topmost section of a fortification) with alternating solid and open sections designed for defensive maneuvers during an armed attack.

crocket — Projecting ornaments usually vegetal in form and globular in shape, often regularly spaced along edges of larger features, such as gables, or used on capitals, characteristic of Gothic architecture.

crocket capital —Capitals having a series of crockets (projecting ornaments usually vegetal in form and globular in shape) arranged around the circumference.

crossing — The square space in a basilican church plan where the transept intersects with the nave just before the choir, often marked by a tower referred to as the crossing tower.

crossing pier — Large piers located at the corners of the crossing in a church designed to support the crossing tower.

crossing tower — Tower located over the crossing of a church supported by crossing piers rising from the pavement.

crosier — Staffs resembling shepherds' crooks carried by bishops, abbots, or abbesses, as symbols of the pastoral office. They may be highly ornamented and made of ivory or precious metals.

crown (architecture) — the highest point of an arch or vault.

crypt — Subterranean rooms or entire stories in churches, often serving as places of burial, especially for venerated persons and sometimes containing altars for ceremonial practices.

cushion capital — Cubic capitals with the lower angles rounded off, to make the transition to a round column. Also called a block capital.

cusp — The intersection of two arcs or foils especially in Gothic tracery.

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