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Letter "R" Glossary

radiating chapels — Chapels located along the outer perimeter of the ambulatory in the east end of a basilican church plan. Chapels may be defined as any space used for worship or veneration in a Christian church, often dedicated to an individual saint or Christian episode.

refectory — Dining halls of monasteries or other religious institutions usually lined with tables and sometimes containing pulpits for reading of religious texts during meal times. In Italy, refectories are characteristically long rectangular rooms often decorated with frescoes depicting the Last Supper.

relic — Objects, such as parts of the body and articles of clothing or of personal use, that belonged to or were associated with a saint, martyr, or other holy person, preserved and held in veneration and often attributed with special powers. Relics are housed in reliquaries, often richly decorated containers sometimes designed in the form of the body part from which the relic was taken, e.g. a head (for a piece of skull) or an arm (for a piece of bone from the arm or hand). There was substantial commercial trade in relics.

relieving arch — Arches which deflect the thrust or weight from another arch, opening, or other structural member located beneath.

reliquary — Containers for safeguarding or exhibiting the relics of a saint, varying in size from small boxes to large objects, often richly decorated and gilded, sometimes in the shape of the enclosed relic.

respond — Supporting elements, usually pilasters or colonettes, attached to a wall used to support or reinforce the end of an arch, a groin of a vault, or a vault rib.

retable — Painted or sculpted panels attached to the back of a Christian altar's mensa depicting religious figures and scenes.

revetment — Wall facings, usually decorative, laid over rough or unfinished surfaces of walls, often of marble or other decorative stone.

rib — Arches or raised moldings of masonry supporting or decorating quadripartite (four-part) or sexpartite (six-part) vaults.

ribbed vault — Vaults that include slender arched moldings or supports called ribs, used either as structural or decorative elements arranged in a diagonal formation on the surface of the vault and crossing in the center. The brick or stone covering spanning each section between the ribs is called the web. Ribbed vaults are usually composed of four (quadripartite) or six (sexpartite) sections

ridge rib — The main rib situated along the longitudinal or transverse ridge (apex) of a vault.

rise — The vertical distance (height) between the spring line (starting point) of an arch and the keystone or a vault and the boss.

rose window — Monumental circular window formed with patterned stone tracery and filled with stained glass, located in the west facade or transept facades of a Christian church.

round arch — Curved or semi-circular structural element, spanning an opening and transmitting the vertical thrust to either side of the opening. A series of uninterrupted round arches constitutes a tunnel or barrel vault.

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