Cemetery The early Christians used the subterraneous vaults or excavations beneath the hills in the neighborhood of Rome chiefly for the purpose of burial. At the entrance, chapels were erected, and hence the cemetery-chapel was spoken of under the name of cemeterium. The vaults containing the coffins were called catacombs, and, besides being used as burial-places, were possibly, during times of persecution, though rarely, used by the early Christians for worship. In after-times, when persecution ceased, access to them was frequent, in consequence of so many saints and martyrs reposing there, and prayers at their tombs were considered more efficacious than elsewhere. It is most probable that this gave rise to the introduction of crypts beneath our own churches, where saints only were buried, or to which their remains were moved sometimes years after their burial. At their tombs the faithful of all ages have worshipped as at an altar. In medieval times the cemetery for the faithful was simply the ground adjoining the church, which was enclosed as church-yards are now, and was often called Paradise. At times, as at Canterbury to A.D. 750, it was forbidden to bury within towns, and in that case a cemetery was provided outside the town, with its church or chapel, as in our own times. Parker, Gloss. of Architect. s.v.
Tertullian calls the burying-place adjoining a church an area, when used for religious meetings. The enormous Campo Santo, built between 1218 and 1283, by John of Pisa, is the most remarkable in Europe, forming a great cloistered quadrangle. The burial-place of unbaptized infants was called the Cemetery of the Innocents. In continental cemeteries, and commonly in the north of France, a light-the dead man's lantern burned in a pharos, or tower, to mark the resting-place of the dead; one, of the 13th century, remains at Fonterault; and it is not improbable that, in England, in many. cases a low side-window contained a lantern, or lych-light, for the same purpose. There are sometimes two churches within one churchyard, as at Altringham, Evesham, Willingale, Cockerington, Hackford, Reepham, and Gillingham; as formerly also at Fulbourne, Trimley, and Staunton. The monastic cemetery was usually on the south side, and the laymen's yard on the north of the presbytery, in England, but in France eastward of it; and a light burning at night gave light both to the crypt and this garth. At Durham, after dinner, the monks, bareheaded, went in procession, daily, to pray around the graves of their departed brethren. At Canterbury, the southern close was divided into the outer cemetery, for lay persons, and the inner, for ecclesiastics and religious. The cemetery-gate, called at Gloucester and Worcester, until their destruction, the Lych-gate, remains at Ely and St. Augustine's, Canterbury.