Glossary

Some of the basic terms used in the articles on my site are shown below but rather than re-invent the wheel, some of the better sites that contains a wealth of information on the terminology used are:

Illustrated Stained Glass Dictionary | Symbol Dictionary | Fisheaters | Gothic Field Guide to Architectural Terms

Aetat:

Latin – “at the age of…” or “aged”.

Agnus Dei:

A Latin term meaning Lamb of God, and originally used to refer to Jesus Christ in his role of the perfect sacrificial offering that atones for the sins of humanity. The Lamb Cross or Agnus Dei Cross portrays a lamb marching from right to left carrying a cross. The cross is sometime replaced with victory flag.

AM:

Symbol depicting the intertwined letters A and M which is called “Auspice Maria” being Latin for “Under the protection of Mary”

AMO:

Scottish – “I Love”. From the Scott Clan. Usually depicted as a prancing Stag with magnificent antlers and the initials AMO below.

A.M.D.G:

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam or ad majorem Dei gloriam, also rendered as the abbreviation AMDG, is the Latin motto of the Society of Jesus, a religious order within the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church. The motto is translated into English as “For the greater glory of God”.

Anchor:

The symbol of Hope. Often included in stained glass windows with other figures to depict Faith, Hope & Charity.

Burning Bush:

The Burning Bush is the motto of the Church of Scotland  ‘nec tamen consumebatur’ (Latin) – ‘Yet it was not consumed’, an allusion to Exodus 3:2 and the Burning Bush. This will usually have reference to Moses.

Buttress:

Architectural support element to reduce sideways roof movement. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buttress

Christogram:

“A monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbol.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christogram

Clerestory:

A wall which has a band of windows along the very top. Mostly seen as an additional level above the Nave before the roof line.

Currency – Pre-Decimal:

Pounds, shillings and pence: one pound sterling was divided into twenty shillings, and one shilling into twelve pence. They are conventionally represented by £, s and d. So £1 13s 6d is one pound thirteen shillings and six pence; 2s 9d is two shillings and nine pence, sometimes shown as 2/9.

Crown of Thorns:

The Crown of Thorns was made of crudely woven branches covered in thorns. Prior to Jesus’s Crucifixion it was placed on his head by the soldiers to inflict pain on him and to mock his claim of authority.

Crystograph:

The name given to an early form of door and window decoration that evolved in the mid 1800s. Multi-coloured repetitive shapes and patterns were the hallmark of this popular decorating medium, however leadlight, etching and murals, in conjunction with borders and corners, were equally popular. It enabled an ease and flexibility in designing and coordinating a decor without the physical or cost constraints of working with glass. The original designs were printed on a very fine translucent paper that was then applied to the glass. Unfortunately as the materials used were of marginal quality, few original examples remain intact today. Crystograph was also known as ‘Glacier‘ and ‘Diaphanie‘.

Dossal:

An ornamental hanging of rich fabric hung behind the altar of a church or at the sides of a chancel. A horizontal painted panel, often composed of several panels joined together. Also see Reredos.

Dove:

Symbol of the Holy Ghost and used especially in representations of our Lord’s Baptism and the Pentecost. It also symbolizes the release of the soul in death, and is used to recall Noah’s dove, a harbinger of hope.

Epistle Side:

The side of the church which the Epistle is read during the Mass or Eucharist. The liturgical south side or on the right if facing the altar.

Evangelists’ Cross:

The four winged creatures have been associated with the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and depicted in Christian art since the 2nd century. They have also been likened to Jesus’ journey on earth where he was born as a man, was sacrificed as a calf, was reborn as a lion in his resurrection, and soared like an eagle in his Ascension. The four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are depicted on this symbol as a winged man, an eagle, a winged lion and a winged ox (or calf). They are derived from the priest Ezekiel’s prophecy after seeing a vision of four living creatures.

FECIT:

He made (it); she made (it): formerly used on works of art after the name of the artist. Abbreviation: fe., fec.

Fleur-de-Lis:

See: http://www.baronage.co.uk/bphtm-02/moa-15.html

Glacier:

(See Crystograph)

Globus Cruciger:

Salvator Mundi, or Saviour of the World, is a subject in iconography depicting Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand holding an orb surmounted by a cross, known as a globus cruciger which symbolizes the Earth.

Harp:

The Harp symbolises the Arms of Ireland.

IHS:

Dating from the 8th century, this is an abbreviation for “IHESUS,” the way Christ’s Name was spelled in the Middle Ages (despite popular belief, the monogram stands neither for “Iesus Hominum Salvator” –“Jesus Saviour of Men” — nor for “In His Service.”) Popularised by St. Bernardine of Siena, the monogram was later used by St. Ignatius of Loyola as a symbol for the Jesuit Order.

INRI:

“Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm.” Latin uses “I” instead of the English “J”, and “V” instead of “U” (i.e., Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum). The English translation is “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

John:

St John is represented as an Eagle because of his “soaring” witness to Jesus’ divine nature. The eagle soars at high altitudes, it is quick and sharp-sighted, and it has a rich symbolic history. An early legend held that the eagle would periodically renew its youth by flying near the sun and then plunging into a lake or fountain. On this basis the eagle became a symbol for the Resurrection. In addition, since the eagle soars upward, it became a symbol for Christ’s Ascension. Eagles also represent Christians who have died and risen again.

Lamb:

Symbol of Christ as the Paschal Lamb and also a symbol for Christians (as Christ is our Shepherd and Peter was told to feed His sheep). The lamb is also a symbol for St. Agnes (Feast Day 21 January), virgin martyr of the early Church.

Lions:

Three Lions being the arms of England. On the second Great Seal of King Richard I “The Lionheart”, used by his successors until 1340: three golden lions passant gardant (or “leopards”), on a red field.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_coat_of_arms_of_the_United_Kingdom

Luke:

St Luke is depicted as an Ox or calf because of their strength, diligence and patience, and unwearied discharge of the work to be done. As a sacrificial animal, the calf emphasizes Jesus’ sacrificial atonement.

Mark:

St Mark is represented as a Lion because a lion is strong and bold. The wings emphasize Mark’s proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection. Because lion cubs are born small and immobile with their eyes shut for the first few days, there is a myth that lion cubs are born dead but come to life after three days. This reminds Christians of the Resurrection.

Matthew:

St Matthew is represented as a Winged Man because he began his Gospel with the human Jesus, tracing a lineage to David. (In some drawings the Winged Man holds a sword and scales, representing the Archangel Michael)

Monstrance:

Monstrance, also known as ostensorium, is the vessel used in Roman Catholic, Old Catholic and Anglican churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic host,

Pelican:

Pelican feeding its young blood from her breast being a symbol of charity. The legend was that in time of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with the beak to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation. Another version of the legend was that the mother fed her dying young with her blood to revive them from death, but in turn lost her own life.

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0682.html

Pilaster:

Decorative element atop the shape of a column set against a wall for decorative purpose etc;
See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilaster

PINXIT:

(he or she) painted (it): formerly put after the artist’s name on a painting abbrev. pinx., pnxt. or pxt.

PX:

The letters P X are Greek for “Christ”

Saint Barbara:

Saint Barbara, known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Great Martyr Barbara (3rd century – December 4, 306), was a Christian saint and martyr. Patron saint of artillerymen, masons, mathematicians, miners, military engineers, stone cutters, those who are afraid of lightning, and anyone who works at risk of sudden and violent death. In Australia she is Patron Saint of the Artillery Regiments.

Scourging Post:

Christ was tied to the Scourging Post where he was whipped (Flagellated). In other biblical writings it was also referred to as The Scourging at the Pillar, Christ at the Column or Flagellation of Christ.

Seamless Garment or Robe:

According to the Gospel of John, the soldiers who crucified Jesus did not divide his garment after crucifying him, but they cast lots, supposedly with dice, to determine who would keep it because it was woven in one piece, without a seam. In Ferguson & Urie windows the depiction of the seamless garment also includes the dice. Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seamless_robe_of_Jesus

Sgraffito:

“(Italian: “scratched”), in the visual arts, a technique used in painting, pottery, and glass, which consists of putting down a preliminary surface, covering it with another, and then scratching the superficial layer in such a way that the pattern or shape that emerges is of the lower colour.” – Source Encyclopaedia Britannica

Ship:

As those outside of Noah’s Ark were destroyed, the ship became a perfect early symbol of the Church with its associations with “the barque of Peter, the Fisherman.” In the same vein, the main part of a church’s interior, the place where the people worship, is called a “nave,” from the Latin “navis” — ship. The Ark is also a symbol of the Temple through its shape and purpose, both having three levels, etc. And as a symbol of the Temple and Church, it is a symbol of Mary, sealed off with pitch and closed up by God Himself.

Tabernacle:

A vessel/case or box on a church Altar containing the consecrated host and wine of the Eucharist.

Trefoil:

A stylized shamrock, such as St. Patrick used in evangelizing Ireland, the trefoil is a symbol of the Most Holy Trinity. In relation to a stained glass window or stone tracery it would be a round window with three lobes.

Triquetra: 

“…complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around it. Also known as a “trinity knot,” the design is used as a religious symbol by both Christians and polytheists. Christians use the triquetra to represent the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triquetra

Verger:

A verger (or virger), so called after the staff of the office, is a person, usually a layman, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglican churches.

Vestry:

A room in a church where the clergy put on their vestments and where these are stored; also used for meetings and classes; a sacristy; A committee of parishioners elected to administer the temporal affairs of a parish.

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