St Finbar's Glenbrook Parish

Use of the Narthex

(An Explanation of the Symbols of St Finbar’s Church Glenbrook)

In a public building, the main features are the forecourt, the portal, the foyer, the main hall or auditorium or place of business.

In a church these are termed, the forecourt, the portal, the narthex and the nave.

The forecourt and the narthex are the places where the congregation is formed and channelled into the nave. The nave is called because of its relationship to the barque of Peter a traditional symbol of the disciples of Jesus.

The narthex in ancient churches was the place of purification where water was available for cleaning hands and feet prior to entering the church proper. The holy water stoops at church entrances are a relic of this ancient practice and also a reminder of the Sacrament of Baptism which purified the spirit and gained membership of Christ' body for the recipient.

The narthex is the place where the organisational needs of the congregation are met and its members socialise. It is also the place where the community gathers to exchange pleasantries before entering into the sacred space of the church.

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