Glossary of Terms

Listed below are the names and descriptions of the areas and items that are used in the liturgy.

Areas Within the Church

Nave: The main portion of the Church where the pews and sanctuary are located.
Reconciliation Room: The room in the far right corner of the church where the Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated.
Sacristy: The portion of the Church where the priests, deacons, servers, and lectors meet to vest and prepare themselves for Mass.
Sanctuary: The area of the Church that contains the altar and the ambo.
Vestibule: The area inside the front door before entering the nave.

Special Books

Sacramentary: The large red book from which the priest prays during Mass.
Lectionary: The book from which the lectors (readers) proclaim the Word of God.
Book of the Gospels: The book used to proclaim the Gospel.

Special Furniture

Altar: The large table from which the priest presides over the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Ambo or Lectern: Where the lector stands to read the Scripture readings and the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel.
Credence Table: The table that has the chalices, Communion bowls or patens, finger bowl, water cruet and finger towel.
Presider’s Chair: The chair on which the priest sits when he leads the assembly in prayer.
Tabernacle: The ornamental, locked box where the Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated Eucharist is kept.

Sacred Vessels

Chalice: The large cup that holds the wine that becomes the Blood of Christ.
Ciborium: A round, gold container that is used to hold the hosts. Ciboria that hold consecrated hosts are stored in the Tabernacle.
Cruet: The little pitcher that holds either water or wine for use during the Mass.
Paten: A small dish or bowl that holds the bread for Holy Communion.

Special Linen

Corporal: A small cloth that sits on top of the altar where the priest places the chalice, paten, and flagon. Its purpose is to catch any small crumbs of the Blessed Sacrament that may fall onto the altar.
Purificator: A white cloth that is used to wipe the rim of the chalice after drinking from it.
Towel: Used by the priest to dry his hands after the hand washing.

Special Clothing

Alb: The long, white garment used to cover street clothes and worn by the priest, deacon, and altar servers.
Cincture: A rope or cord worn around the waist (like a belt) over the alb.
Chasuble: The outer garment worn by the priest at Mass.
Humeral Veil: A white veil used by the celebrant to cover his hands when handling the monstrance during elevation and benediction or during solemn Eucharistic processions as on Holy Thursday.
Stole: A long, narrow band of cloth that looks like a scarf. A priest wears the stole draped over his shoulders and hanging down in front.

Other Items

Aspergillum: The liturgical instrument used to sprinkle people and objects with holy water.
Extinguisher: Used to light and put out candles.
Lavabo Bowl: The small basin over which the priest washes his hands.
Monstrance: The large vessel used for showing the body of Christ for prayers outside of Mass. Inside the monstrance is a smaller glass container called a lunette.
Thurible: The pot that holds the charcoal on which incense is burned.
Boat: A small liturgical vessel containing the incense that will be used with the thurible
Thurifer: A minister who carries the incense pot.