Cella (or Cella Memoriae), was a small memorial chapel erected in a sepulchral area over the tomb of a deceased person, in which at stated times, especially the anniversary of his decease, friends and dependents assembled to celebrate an agape, and partake of a banquet in his honor. Sepulchral buildings of this character were common both to heathens and Christians. Christianity simply inherited them, and purged them of licentious or idolatrous taint.
Directions for the erection of a building bearing the same title, and devoted to a similar purpose, by a pagan, are given in a very curious will, once engraved on a tomb at Langres, a copy of a portion of which has been discovered in the binding of a MS. of the 10th century in the library at Basle.
These celoe were halls for memorial banquets. The Christians were essentially men of their country and their age, following in all things lawful the customs of the time and place in which their lot was cast. Rejecting the abuses arising from the license of pagan morals, there was nothing in itself to take exception at in the funeral feast. Indeed, the primitive "lovefeasts" were often nothing more than banquets heldin celoe at the tombs of the faithful, the expenses of which, in the case of the poorer members, were provided out of the church-chest. Pictorial representations of banquets of this nature are found in the catacombs. These celle also formed oratories where prayers were offered over the remains of the departed. The name was applied only to buildings erected above the ground, those below being known as CIBICULA SEE CIBICULA . (q.v.).