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The Nave

Sahn El Kaneesa
  • The nave gets its name from the Latin “naives,” meaning a ship. It is usually divided into two parts or “Choirs”:
    1.    The Chancel, or Chorus of Deacons.
    2.    Chorus of Believers, or the nave of the church.

  • The chancel contains seats for deacons, two candelabra and two lecterns (bookstands) on which the lectionaries are placed. It is separated from the sanctuary by the iconostasis and from the rest of the nave by a screen or a fence. This is to show a distinction from the sanctuary to the rest of the church.

  • Attached or close to the chancel fence are the relics of the saints. These were kept under the altar in ancient times, to protect them and to be prayed upon during services. They are now set up at the chancel fence so that the congregation may be able to take the saints’ blessings.

  • The lectern (bookstand) is usually wooden with a sloping book rest that is moveable. It has many designs and carvings including crosses on it. The best design is the one in Old Cathedral in Cairo, belonging to the Hanging Church, which date back to the tenth century. The ivory enrichments give it a most delicate appearance as a finished work of art. The crosses and tablets are clad with Arabic inscriptions.

  • In ancient times the nave was divided into parts by a colonnade (a series of regularly spaced columns). The southern side (right) is reserved for women, and the north side (left) is for men. So, the women sit on the right hand of the men, as the Queen sits at the right hand of the King.

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