Crypt (2)

Crypt Of this important form of church architecture we give additional details from Walcott, Sac. Archaeol. s.v.: "The earliest crypts which we. possess are those of Hexham and Ripon. They have several entrances; one used exclusively by the priest serving at the altar, the others for the ascent and descent of the worshippers, and opening into a chapel containing relics and a recess for an altar. In the wall are niches, with ffinel-headed openings for lamps. At Winchester, a low, arched doorway, below the screen of the feretory, led down to the relic chamber, which was in consequence called the Holy Hole. In later times, aumbries and secret hiding-places for plate and treasures were generally provided. In the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries crypts became developed into magnificent subterranean churches, like those of Canterbury, Gloucester, Rochester,Worcester, Winchester; St. Peter's, Oxford; Bayeux, Chartres, Saintes, Auxerre, Bourges, Holy Trinity, Caen; St. Denis, Ghent; Fiesole, Padua, Florence, Pavia, Palermo, and Modena. The earlier examples are of moderate dimensions, resembling cells, as in the pre-Norman examples at Lastingham, at St. Mellon, at Rouen, of the 4th century; St. Maur, and Faye la Vineuse. After the 14th century the crypt was replaced by lateral chapels built above ground. In fact, all crypts called in some places the crowds — the shrouds, or undercroft — were built to put Christians in remembrance of the old state of the Primitive Church before Constantine. The crypts of the Duomo and San Ambrogio, Milan, Parma, and Monte Cassino, are still used as a winter choir; and the parish church of St. Faith, in the shrouds of St. Paul's, was occupied until the Great Fire. Several of the largest cathedrals, built on unfavorable sites for excavation, as Durham and Chichester, have no crypt. The crypts of Winchester, Rochester, Gloucester, Worcester, and Canterbury were all made before 1085; and after that date the construction of crypts was laid aside, except where they were a continuation of existing buildings, as at Canterbury and Rochester. There is, however, an exceptional Early English example under the Lady Chapel of Hereford, and one of Decorated date at Waltham. A curious Decorated contrivance for constructing a crypt in an earlier church, which was never designed to have one, may be seen at Wimborne Minster, where the crypt under the presbytery lies open to the aisles. At Bosham and Dorchester (Oxon) there is a small crypt in the south alley of the nave, under a raised platform, for an altar or chapel, which is only another specimen, on a much smaller scale, of the same principle which, at Lubeck, Hildesheim, Naumburg, Halberstadt, Rochester, and Canterbury, left the crypt floor on a level almost with the nave, and raised the choir-level to a great height, enclosing it with stone screens. At Christchurch and Gloucester there was a crypt under each corner of the cross, except the western one. At Auxerre and Bourges the crypt, like the subterranean church of Assisi, was useful as a constructional arrangement to maintain the level of the choir. Occasionally the crypt assumes rather the character of a lower church, as in the Sainte- Chapelle (Paris), Eton, and St. Stephen's, Westminster. There is no example of a crypt in the Peninsula or Ireland, and Scotland possesses only one, at Glasgow. At Westminster, Glasgow, and Wells there is a crypt under the chapterhouse, which contained an altar. The crypt was frequently lighted brilliantly on great festivals, and its chapels were constantly thronged with pilgrims and visitors, so that at present we can hardly portray to ourselves, in their cheerless desolation, that once they were much frequented places of prayer." Crypta seems to have been sometimes used in Christian times as synonymous with "cemetery." We may, however, mark this distinction between the two words, that" cemetery " is a word of wider signification, including open-air burial-grounds, while "crypta" is strictly limited to those excavated beneath the surface of the ground. We sometimes meet with the expression cryptac arenarum, or cryptae arenarice (i.e., "of the sand-pits"), in connection with the interment of Christian martyrs. These would seem to indicate the galleries of a deserted pozzuolana pit, as places of sepulture. But though the subterranean cemeteries very frequently had a close connection with these quarries, and were approached through their adita, the sand-pits themselves were seldom or never used for interment, for which, indeed, they were unfit, without very extensive alteration and adaptation. The passages referred to, which are chiefly found in the not very trustworthy Acts of the Martyrs, have probably originated in a confusion between the catacombs themselves and the quarries with which they were often so closely connected.-Smith, Dict. of Christ. Anti. s.v. SEE CATACOMBS.

Definition of cry

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