Church We give some additional details respecting the church edifices:
"The earliest Church property, so called, dates from the reign of Alexander Severns, 222-235. Oiptatuus of Milevi mentions forty churches at Rome. From the time of Gallieuus (260) to the edict of Diocletian for their destruction, in. 303, the Christians had their use; aid the Acts of St. Theodotus of Ancyra, martyred by that emperor, allude to. an apsidal church. The original Christian churches were oblong, looking eastward, with the chambers of the clergy on either side, and two western doors as separate entrances for men and women. Afterwards churches were built in various forms in the shape of a cross, square, or round; the former were vaulted, and the latter had wooden ceilings. All were apsidal, and their orientation is called by Paulinuis the more usual form; but Stephen, bishop of Tournay, speaks of it as a peculiarity of St. Benet's, Paris, in a letter to pope Lucius III, and in some Italian churches at his day, the celebrant at the altar faced the west. About the year 1000 — the fancied millennium of some ancient writers — architecture came nearly to a standstil. Churches were not repaired, much less rebuilt; for, as William of Tyre said, the evening of days seemed to have fallen upon the world, and the coming of the Son of Man to draw near; while charters of foundation, rare as they were, bore the ominous heading, forasmuch as the world's end approacheth. But about the beginning of the 11th, century confidence was restored, and an aera of church building so universal set in that Ralph Glaber says it seemed as if 'the world was putting off its dingy vesture and donning a pure white robe.'
"Churches, in their threefold longitudinal: division of nave, choir, and sanctuary, correspond to the arrangement of the Temple, with its court of the Gentiles, the worldly sanctuary, and holy of holies. They have also a triple elevation, containing the base-arcade, triforium, and clerestory, and also three parts laterally formed by the main body of the structure and its aisles.
"Churches are distinguished into various grades, the patriarchal, primatial, and metropolitan, according to the rank of their presidents; cathedral, as containing a bishop's cathedral or see; collegiate, which are composed of a chapter and dean; conventual, if belonging to a religious community; abbeys, those under an abbot, or priories, if governed by a prior; ministers, when attached to a monastery or of imposing size; parochial, if furnished with a font." "Churches are built on many different plans, and have been so at all periods: one plan has no more authority than another — it is entirely a matter of convenience and decent order. The earliest churches were chambers in the houses of the more wealthy Christians, who allowed their poorer brethren to assemble in their houses, usually in the hall or the largest room, but at first in smaller rooms, either at the top of the house, as mentioned in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, or in the chambers below the level of the street, which were usual in the houses or palaces of the Roman nobility. Several of these subterranean churches remain, as those of St. Pudentiana and St; Sylvester. In all these cases other chambers were built above them for churches after the peace in the time of Constantine. Some think that the name of basilica was derived from this early use of the hall, which was also a court. of justice, SEE BASILICA; and in the case of the Cathedral of Treves the actual hall of a Roman house remains to this day, converted into a church, while there is another basilica, or law court, near to it, also converted into a church in more recent times. At Rome the seven great churches made by Constantine, which still retain the name of basilica in an especial manner, were probably all originally 950 law courts, and so preserved their old arrangements, which served as types for others, and came to be considered the usual arrangement of a church.
"The Church of Santa Croce was the praetorium, or law court, in the sessorium or palace of the empress Helena, and ha an apse added to it by Constantine as a necessary. part of the arrangement. That of St. John Lateran, which was the first that Constantine made into a church, was originally one of the halls in the great palace of the Lateran family. Those of St. Lawrence and St. Agnes were originally two of the small burial-
chapels at the entrance of their respective catacombs, and other chapels in the catacombs are called basilicas by some writers, though they seldom held more than fifty persons, and the largest not more than eighty; these are evidently burial-chapels only, and afford no guidance for the arrangement of a church. St. Clement's is usually appealed to as the primitive type: the original church, which now forms a crypt to the present one, is considerably wider. When the upper part of the church was rebuilt, in the 12th century, the old nave of the upper church was found inconveniently wide, and one of the aisles of this underground church is now outside the wall of the upper church, the width of the nave having been divided into a nave and aisle. The marble screen was brought up from the lower church and re-arranged to suit the smaller one. This church therefore affords no certain type of primitive arrangement. That of Torcello, at Venice, is more perfect and unaltered, but is probably also of the 12th century. There is no example of primitive arrangement remaining, except perhaps St. Agnes, outside of the walls of Rome; but it is certain that the plan of the Roman court of justice was closely followed, and all the names of the different parts were retained.
"When the art of building in stone was revived in Western Europe in the 11th century, the apse appears at first to have been considered an essential feature, as at Canterbury, which seems to have followed the plan of the original church of St. Peter's at Rome; and in such cases the altar was probably placed on the chord of the apse, as at Rome, but this practice was soon abandoned, and from the 12th century in England the square east end became almost universal, and the altar-was placed against the east wall, often resting partly upon corbels in the wall. The chorus, or choir, which in Italy is sometimes in one part of the church and sometimes another, and in Spain and the south of France is usually in the middle, was in England and the north of France almost universally in the eastern limb of the church, and enclosed by a screen called originally cancellus, from which the name of chancel and choir became synonymous, but usage now generally confines the name of choir to the cathedrals or large churches. SEE CHANCEL; see CHOIR. When there are aisles to the eastern part of a church the central division of it is usually called the choir. Although no general rule can be laid down, the most usual plan of our English mediaeval church may be said to be:
1. A chancel without aisles; 2. A nave with aisles; 3. A western tower; 4. A south porch. Garsington Church, Oxfordshire, affords a good example of the original plan of a parish church unaltered.