Church architecture From Eden to the Church • • • • • • 1st ‘Church’ = Eden (no sanctuary, altar...) 2nd ‘Church’ = The Altar (Gen 22:9..) 3rd ‘Church’ = Bethel (House of God .. Jacob) 4th ‘Church’ = The tabernacle (Lev) 5th ‘Church’ = The temple 6th ‘Church’ = Church of the New Testament (The Incarnate Lord is transfigured in front of our eyes) Shapes of the Church • The Church can be built in one of three shapes: 1. A Cross 2. A Circle 3. An Ark A Cross • Common in Byzantine style, but never introduced in the Coptic Church Circular • A Circle is a line which has no beginning or end • It is infinite - Like God Ship (Ark) • The most common shape in our Coptic Churches Ship • They indicated that death was a happy voyage from this world to a better life • Death with the Lord Christ brings us to a better life - Eternal Life • A person who journeys from one place to another, travels in a ship • Christianity takes us from this world and transports us to a better life - Heaven • The dimensions of the ark are very comparable to those of the human body. • The length of the body = 6 X his width, and 10 X his girth • The dimensions of the ark were (300 X 50 X 30) • The Lord Christ (the symbol of Ark) became man to save us. Ship symbolisms • • • • • • God the Father is the owner of the ship The Lord Christ is the captain The Bishop is the watchman The priests are the seamen The deacons are the rowers The sea is the world, in which the church has entered, but it is not destroyed because its captain is clever. • The ship carries the cross in it (The flag of victory over death) • The ropes that tie the ship together is the love of the Lord Christ • The net of the ship is the baptismal font where the believers are drawn and are born anew • It has iron cables, which are the commandments of the Lord Christ, strong as iron • It has sailors on the left and right sides, which are the angels who keep and direct the church • The ladder that leads up the ship is the commemoration of the passion of Christ the Lord, which lifts us up to heaven. • The sails that are raised above the ship are the saints and martyrs who have entered into His rest. The structure of the Church • The Church is Shaped like the Tabernacle, with three sections • The First Section is the Sanctuary (the Holy of Holies) and represents Heaven. • It contains the altar, the dome, the steps, and the Eastern wall • The Second Section is called the “Nave”. • The Third Section is the baptismal font, at the western area of the Church The altar • • • • • Where the sacrifice is offered It is square in shape Made out of either wood or marble It has three coverings on top It Must have a "holy board" on top, which is the board consecrated by the Holy Oil of Myron. • The holy board is only necessary for an altar that has yet to be consecrated. After consecration, the holy board is no longer required. • It is called the Altar, because upon it is presented the True Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ The Dome • Above the altar, we see the dome • Positioned on four columns • Painted in blue to represent heaven, with angels drawn on it • Curtains are sometimes suspended from between the columns The Steps • Seven semi-circular steps that lead up to the Bishop's throne, underneath the Eastern wall • The Bishop would be sitting under the feet of the Lord Christ • In order for the Bishop to take his place, he would climb seven (complete) steps (which represent the fullness of virtues) • He teaches the people from behind the Altar, because his words and service are not due to his own righteousness, but to the righteousness of Christ the Lord. The Eastern Wall • Is a semi-circular wall also called the "Father's bosom" • It has an Icon of the Lord Christ sitting, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim • He carries in one hand the earth (because He is the controller of everything – the Pantocrator) • He carries a scepter in the other hand to shepherd His people (Jn 10:11) • He is looking directly at the people and lovingly opening His bosom to them longing to accept each and every soul to Himself. • Only the Icon of the Lord Christ should be in the Sanctuary as He alone is in Heaven until the final judgment after which the souls of the righteous in Paradise will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The work of the Holy Spirit and structure of the Church •The Church is composed of the Lord Christ (the Head) and the believers (the Body), and so, they carry His thoughts in their minds. •With this idea, the early church was able to build a church structure in any place, in order to build the Kingdom of God in the hearts of the believers. •The structure of the church is a visual message about the goal of the church: salvation. It portrays who the Lord Christ is, what is this Salvation, and how to obtain it. The church faces the East 1. The Garden of Eden was in the East (Gen 2:8) 2. The East is the direction in which the Sun rises, and the Lord is called “Sun of Righteousness” (Mal 4:2) 3. The Lord Christ was born in the East. The wise men saw His star in the East (Matt 2:2) 4. St Mary was described as the gate facing toward East (Ez 44:1-2) 5. God’s glory is in the East 6. The Lord Christ will come from the East Coptic Iconostasis • • • • • The doors The windows Positioning and order of icons The candles The Ostrich eggs The doors • The Coptic Iconostasis contains three doors; the Royal door as the entrance to the sanctuary, and the two other doors for the side sanctuaries. • The oblations are offered and the “Lamb” is selected at the Royal door. • Entering these doors means you enter heaven itself, while outside is the Earth. • The three doors refer to the function of the Holy Trinity in reconciling God and man through the unity of heaven and earth. • Upon entering the sanctuary, the priest must face the altar and step through the right hand side of the door using his right leg and bowing his head, as if stepping into the kingdom of heaven. • When stepping out of the sanctuary he leaves by the left side of the door, in reverence, keeping his eyes fixed on the altar. The Windows • On each side of the Coptic sanctuary doors there existed a small window, cut about one and half meters above the floor. • These were originally used during the persecution periods, where two deacons watched the church through them. • In case of an attack, they notified the priest, who in turn hid the sacrifice, quenched the candles and tore away the altar clothing. • Also can be used for holy communion Positioning and order of icons • Positioning of the various icons upon the Iconostasis is traditionally governed by a number of guidelines. • 14 guidelines are listed here 1. The royal door 2. Icon of Christ • He appears holding a sheet of the gospel showing the verse “I am the Good Shepherd” 3. Window • No picture 4. St John the Baptist • Next to the icon of Christ is St John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Lord’s coming. 5. Icon of the Patron Saint or the icon of the church • For it potrays the saint in whose honor the Church was built. It is usually followed by a number of selected icons of saints and martyrs or incidents from both the New and Old Testaments. 6. Icon of Martyr, Saint or any incident from the bible • No picture 7. St Mary • On the opposite side of the Royal Door appears the icon of St Mary, the mother of God. She represents the whole church and the Queen who sits on the right hand of the King, Jesus Christ. 8. The anunciation 9. Archangel Michael 10. St Mark the Apostle • Should be on the opposite side 11. The Last Supper - Directly above the Royal Door the icon of the last supper is mounted. - It shows Christ giving communion to His disciples, which illustrates and signifies the authoritive office of Christ as the High Priest. 12. The disciples • The disciples assure us of the apostolic nature of our church. It is established on the apostolic faith. 13. St Mary + 14. St John the disciple • On top of the Iconastis a cross is mounted and a view of the Golgotha is displayed. • The Virgin mary stands on one side and St. John the disciple stands on the other side. The candles • Before every icon a candle is hung, and this represents the light of Christ who shines through His saints. (There is no candle for the icon of Jesus Christ) Ostrich Eggs • They are suspended before the Iconostasis between the icons. • Eggs held a symbolic meaning of hope and resurrection. • It was said that when Pontius Pilate asked Mary Magdalene of how Jesus rose from the dead, she brought an egg and asked him “Tell me how a small chick emerges from this egg when it is born?” • Perhaps this practice corresponds to the tradition of exchanging (coloured)eggs on Easter. • After an Ostrich lays her eggs she must remain active to speed up their hatching. She concentrates on the egg. Likewise when a person walks into Church, he should concentrate all his thoughts and attention to the divine worship, leaving behind all earthy worries lest his prayers should be spoilt and lost.