The Narthex

The narthex is a transitional space between the exterior of the church and the nave. The porch leading into the narthex was not part of the original plan, but adds extra depth. Although unassuming architecturally, it plays an important part in the church’s liturgical life, especially during the initiation rites of the Sacrament of Baptism. Theoretically, in keeping with the practice of primitive Christianity, the catechumen (candidate for baptism), not yet baptized, must not come into the nave, reserved for the faithful. Nowadays the distinction between narthex and nave is purely symbolic. Above the narthex is the choir gallery, accessible through a staircase in the first bay of the south aisle. The original organ, which was brought from the Hope Street church of 1881, is still in place, though it is awaiting restoration before it can return to use.

Return to “The Shrine in Detail”