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Letter "P" Glossary

parchment — Translucent or opaque sheets prepared from calf, sheep, or goat skin which has been limed, depilated, scraped, and dried under tension to produce a thin, strong material for writing, bookbinding, or other uses. The term vellum is used for a finer quality parchment prepared calf skin.

parekklesia — In Byzantine churches, the side chapels attached to the building of the main church.

pastophoria — Individual chambers in temples or churches. In ancient temples, the chambers provided apartments for the "pastophori," an order of priests who carried the shrines of the gods in procession. According to tradition, the Temple of Jerusalem had these chambers so the term may be applied to apartments that imitate these chambers and are typically located on either side of the bema in Byzantine churches .

paten — Christian liturgical plates, usually shallow in form, on which the Host is placed both before and after consecration.

pendentive — Curved wall surfaces, broadly rectangular in shape, that provides a transitional element between a dome (or its drum) and the supporting masonry.

pendentive dome — Domes with inner surfaces continuous with the surfaces of their pendentives.

phylactery — A scroll or roll (made of parchment), usually shown unfurled, sometimes containing lettering signifying the Word of God.

pier — A square or rectangular vertical masonry supporting element used on both the exterior and interior of buildings.

pilaster — Vertical masonry elements in a rectangular upright format attached to and projecting slightly from a wall with a base and capital and, in classical architecture, conforming to one of the orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian).

pilgrim — People traveling along a designated route to visit specific churches as part of a penitential journey.

pilgrim bottles — Flattened, gourd-shaped water or wine bottles with one or two pairs of lugs at each side for the attachment of shoulder straps, used by pilgrims during their journey along the pilgrimage route.

pilgrimage church — Churches designed and built primarily during the 11th century to accommodate crowds of visiting pilgrims along the main routes to the shrine at Campostela, Spain; may also be used for any large church designed to receive large numbers of pilgrims and characterized by the arrangement of entrances/exits, aisles and chapels to facilitate a steady movement of people through the building .

pilier cantonne — A column with engaged colonnettes or shafts forming a complex profile and characteristic of Gothic architecture.

pinnacle — Uppermost vertical structures, generally more or less tapering, usually located atop buttresses and often designed with decorative elements such as tracery or crockets.

plate tracery — Tracery (stone openwork supporting window glazing) whose openings are or seem to be pierced through flat slabs of stone, characteristic of Early Gothic windows. As opposed to bar tracery which is thinner and more thread-like in appearance.

plinth — Rectangular or square supporting elements or lower blocks for columns, pilasters, or door framing. Also a solid monumental base, often ornamented, to support statues or memorials.

pointed arch — A structural member spanning an opening in which the wedge-shaped stones (voussoirs) are arranged so the apex of the arch forms a point. Pointed arches are a characteristic structural feature of Gothic architecture.

porphry — A hard dark purplish-red rock, first quarried in ancient Egypt, containing relatively large crystals in a fine-grained igneous matrix. May be highly polished and used for sculpture, tombs, vases and architectural elements.

portal — A prominent, monumental entrance on the faŤade of a building designed to emphasize the importance of the entrance, sometimes decorated with elaborate sculptural programs representing Christian subjects.

predella — Box-like bases of large altarpieces, most often in Italy, decorated with images usually related to the figures of saints and other holy personages shown in the main panel. See altarpiece above.

processional cross — Crosses mounted on staffs and carried in Christian religious processions made of ivory, wood, or metal and either with or without the figure of the crucified Christ,

prothesis (pl. protheses) — Recesses functioning as chapels used for preparation of the Eucharist by the clergy, and located on the north side of the bema in Byzantine churches.

psalter — A book (manuscript) containing the Psalms of the Bible.

pulpit — Stands for a speaker, especially the preacher of a sermon, often elevated for increased visibility and audibility, and often decorated with sculpted panels depicting religious scenes.

pumpkin dome — Multi-ribbed domes resembling the form of a melon (either exterior or interior) found especially in Islamic architecture. Also called an umbrella dome or melon dome.

pyx — Christian liturgical vessel in the form of a small box with a lid, sometimes of ivory and often decorated with low-relief carving, used to hold the consecrated host. Distinct from a monstrance which is used to display the Host.

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