The orientation of Christian churches reflects the historically documented concepts that one should turn eastward to pray and the architectural and liturgical principle that temples and churches should be constructed facing east (often specified as equinoctial east).
Which direction should a church face?
Within church architecture, orientation is an arrangement by which the point of main interest in the interior is towards the east (Latin: oriens). The east end is where the altar is placed, often within an apse. The façade and main entrance are accordingly at the west end.
Do churches have to face a certain way?
For those who do not have the time to immerse themselves… the answer is yes, churches do face east , but not perfectly and the discrepancy varies with location. … It is quite possible that all but the earliest extant churches were aligned and built with the help of a compass.
What direction does a church normally face and why?
Liturgical east and west is a concept in the orientation of churches. It refers to the fact that the end of a church which has the altar, for symbolic religious reasons, is traditionally on the east side of the church (to the right in a diagram).
Do Catholic churches face a certain direction?
Chances are you will find that the church is built facing the east. This is no coincidence. Though it has not been possible on every occasion, many Catholic churches have been built to face the east. There are scriptural roots to this orientation.
Why do Catholic church altars face east?
This is why in nearly every place and for almost all of Christian history, the priest has stood with his people on the same side of the altar so that, together facing the East of the sacred liturgy, they could offer the pleasing sacrifice of their lives (cf. Romans 12.1) while pleading the sacrifice of Christ.
Why do churches face east?
The origin of this is probably because the sun rises in the east, and the sun symbolises Christ and his resurrection. Pointing east also means, in northern Europe, that the church is (roughly) pointing towards Jerusalem. All Churches are to face east.
Are churches built facing east?
Since the 8th Century churches have tended to be built facing towards the east. The main focus of a church, the alter, is placed at the east end of the church, often in an apse.
Do all churches face Jerusalem?
Originally Answered: In which Christian denominations does the altar face East, and why? It has nothing to do with Jerusalem. Even to the east of the Holy City, Christians worship facing east – i.e., with their backs to Jerusalem. Ian has already given the best Scriptural reference – Matthew 24:27.
Is Golgotha and Calvary the same place?
Golgotha, (Aramaic: “Skull”) also called Calvary, (from Latin calva: “bald head” or “skull”), skull-shaped hill in ancient Jerusalem, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is referred to in all four Gospels (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33, and John 19:17).
Are churches always built on the same spot?
Not always, but if the site is particularly important then a subsequent rebuilding may well be on the same spot. By contrast, Coventry Cathedral is built adjacent to the ruins of the bombed cathedral as part of its history. No, they tend to be spread out – one spot, one church.
Why are churches built on high ground?
Most Christian churches are built to stand out. For hundreds of years, churches, often placed on high ground and boasting a tower or steeple, were the most impressive structures around. They announced their permanence and dominance – important when they were in competition with earlier, pagan beliefs.
What is the front of a cathedral called?
nave, central and principal part of a Christian church, extending from the entrance (the narthex) to the transepts (transverse aisle crossing the nave in front of the sanctuary in a cruciform church) or, in the absence of transepts, to the chancel (area around the altar).
Which direction was Jesus facing on the cross?
Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon, the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward. Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him.
Why does the priest face east?
‐By facing east for the eucharistic prayer. … Priests in the patristic era almost universally faced east, the direction of rising sun, during the eucharistic prayer, anticipating thereby the glory of Christ’s return to earth. And he no longer necessarily faced east in expectation of the return of Christ.
When did the Catholic Church turn the altar around?
After years in which priests celebrated Mass with their backs turned to worshipers, altars were repositioned after the Second Vatican Council (1963-65) so that the priest could face the people. In recent interviews, the cardinal was quick to say he is not advocating an immediate change, but is taking a longer view.