Chapel: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Chapel

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Littlejohn Memorial Chapel, an example of a school chapel at Scotch College, Melbourne
Neogothic chapel in Mošovce, Slovakia
Cappella Palatina (illustrated) and Palatine Chapel in Aachen are two most famous palatine chapels of Europe.
In Russian Orthodox tradition, the chapels were built underneath city gates, where most people could visit them. The most famous example is the Iberian Chapel.
Gothic Chapel (15th century) in The Chrobry Square in The Old Town of Police, a town in Pomerania, Poland

A chapel is a building used by Christians, members of other religions, and sometimes interfaith communities, as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be attached to an institution such as a large church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building, sometimes with its own grounds. [1] Many military installations have chapels for the use of military personnel, normally under the leadership of a Military chaplain. Until the Protestant Reformation, a chapel denoted a place of worship that was either at a secondary location that was not the main responsibility of the local parish priest, or that belonged to a person or institution. Most larger churches had one or more secondary altars, which if they occupied a distinct space, would often be called a chapel.

The word chapel is in particularly common usage in England, and even more so in Wales, for independent or nonconformist places of worship; and in Scotland and Ireland many ordinary Roman Catholic churches as well as non-Anglican church buildings are known to locals as "the chapel". In England, due to the rise in popularity of independent or nonconformist chapels throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by the time of the 1851 census, more people attended the independent chapels, albeit at their own expense, than attended the state's Anglican churches.

The word, chapel, like the associated word, chaplain, originally had Christian roots, but is used in a wider context today. While many are denominational, many are non-denominational. The latter are mostly encountered as part of a non-religious institution such as a hospital, prison or military installation. In England, where the Anglican Church is established by law, nondenominational or inter-faith chapels in such institutions may nonetheless be consecrated by the local Anglican bishop.

Chapels that are built as part of a larger church are holy areas set aside for some specific use or purpose: for instance, many cathedrals and large churches have a "Lady Chapel" in the apse, dedicated to the Virgin Mary; parish churches may have such a "Lady Chapel" in a side aisle or a "Chapel of Reservation" where the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist are kept in reserve between services, for the purpose of taking Holy Communion to the sick and housebound and, in some Christian traditions, for devotional purposes.

In Roman Catholic Canon Law, a chapel, technically called an "oratory" is a building or part thereof dedicated to the celebration of services, particularly the Mass, which is not a parish church. This may be a private chapel, for the use of one person or a select group (a bishop's private chapel, or the chapel of a convent, for instance); a semi-public oratory, which is partially available to the general public (a seminary chapel that welcomes visitors to services, for instance); or a public oratory (for instance, a hospital or university chapel).



The earliest Christian places of worship are now often referred to as chapels, as they were not dedicated buildings but rather a dedicated chamber within a building, such as a room in an individual's home. Here one or two people could pray without being part of a communion/congregation. People who like to use chapels may find it peaceful and relaxing to be away from the stress of life, without other people moving around them.

The word "chapel" is derived from a relic of Saint Martin of Tours: traditional stories about Martin relate that while he was still a soldier, he cut his military cloak in half to give part to a beggar in need. The other half he wore over his shoulders as a "small cape" (Latin: capella). The beggar, the stories claim, was Christ in disguise, and Martin experienced a conversion of heart, becoming first a monk, then abbot, then bishop. This cape came into the possession of the Frankish kings, and they kept the relic with them as they did battle. The tent which kept the cape was called the capella and the priests who said daily Mass in the tent were known as the capellani. From these words we get the names "chapel" and "chaplain".

The word also appears in the Irish language in the Middle Ages, as Welsh people came with the Norman and Old English invaders to the island of Ireland. While the traditional Irish word for church was éaglais (derived from ecclesia), a new word, ceipéal (from cappella), came into usage.

In English history, "chapel", or sometimes 'meeting house', was formerly the standard designation for church buildings belonging to independent or nonconformist religious societies and their members. It was a word particularly associated with the pre-eminence of independent religious practice in rural regions of England and Wales, the northern industrial towns of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and centres of population close to but outside of the City of London. As a result, "chapel" is sometimes used as an adjective in the UK to describe the members of such churches ("I'm Chapel.").

Proprietary chapels

A proprietary chapel is one that originally belonged to a private person. In the 19th century they were common, often being built to cope with urbanisation. Frequently they were set up by Evangelical Philanthropists with a vision of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in cities whose needs could no longer be met by the parishes. Some functioned more privately, with a wealthy person building a chapel so they could invite their favorite preachers.[2] They are anomalies in the English ecclesiastical law, having no parish area, but being able to have an Anglican clergyman licensed there. Historically many Anglican Churches were Proprietary Chapels. Over the years they have often been converted into normal Parishes.

Modern usage

St. Ivan Rilski Chapel in Antarctica

While the usage of the word "chapel" is not exclusively limited to Christian terminology, it is most often found in that context. Nonetheless, the word's meaning can vary by denomination, and non-denominational chapels (sometimes called "meditation rooms") can be found in many hospitals, airports, and even the United Nations headquarters.

Common uses of the word chapel today include:

  • Side-chapel or side chapel - a chapel within a cathedral or larger church.
  • Lady Chapel - these are really a form of side chapel, but have been included separately as they are extremely prevalent in the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. They are dedicated to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Ambassador's Chapel - originally created to allow ambassadors from Catholic countries to worship whilst on duty in Protestant countries.
  • Bishop's Chapel - in Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Law, Bishops have the right to have a chapel in their own home, even when travelling (such personal chapels may be granted only as a favor to other priests)
  • Chapel of rest - not a place of worship as such, but a comfortably decorated room in a funeral directors premises, where family and friends can view the deceased before the funeral.
  • Chapel of ease - constructed in large parishes to allow parishioners easy access to a church or chapel.
  • Summer chapel - A small church in a resort area that functions only during the summer when vacationers are present.
  • Wayside chapel - Small chapels in the countryside

Notable chapels

A mountain chapel near Zermatt in the Swiss Alps.
Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua.
The Little Chapel in Guernsey.
Gallus-Kapelle in Greifensee ZH (Switzerland), the Town hall to the left
Interior of a baroque chapel at the Cathedral of Chihuahua, Mexico
Chapel Year Location
Brancacci Chapel 1386 Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence, Italy
Cadet Chapel 1963 United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Cadet Chapel 1911 United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, USA
Contarelli Chapel 1585 San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, Italy
Duke Chapel 1930 Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
Eton College Chapel 1440-c.1460 Eton College, Eton, Berkshire, England
Heinz Memorial Chapel 1938 University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
King's College Chapel, Cambridge 1446 Cambridge University, Cambridge, England
Lee Chapel 1867 Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, USA
Magi Chapel 1459-1461 Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence, Italy
Mariners Chapel 1961 United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York, USA
Medici Chapels 16th-17th centuries Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy
Naval Academy Chapel 1908 United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, USA
Niccoline Chapel 1447-1449 Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
Palatine Chapel 786 Aachen Cathedral, Aachen, Germany
Palatine Chapel 1132 Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Pauline Chapel 1540 Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
Pettit Memorial Chapel 1907 Belvidere, Illinois, United States
Queen's Chapel 1623 London, England
Rosslyn Chapel 1440 Roslin, Scotland
Rothko Chapel 1964 Houston, Texas, USA
Sainte-Chapelle 1246 Île de la Cité, Paris, France
Sassetti Chapel 1470 Santa Trinita, Florence
Sistine Chapel 1473 Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
St. George's Chapel 1348 Windsor Castle, England
St. Joan of Arc Chapel 15th century Relocated to Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA
St. Paul's Chapel 1766 New York City, USA
St Salvator's Chapel 1450 St Andrews, Scotland
LLandaff Oratory 1925 Van Reenen, South Africa
Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire 1949 Vence, France
Theodelinda Chapel 15th century Monza Cathedral, Italy
Thorncrown Chapel 1980 Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA
Slipper Chapel 1340 Norfolk, England
St. Ivan Rilski Chapel 2003 Livingston Island, Antarctica
Gallus Chapel 1330-1340 Greifensee ZH, Switzerland

See also

  • In Brittany (France) each small village has its own chapel. Nowadays many of these are only used once a year, for the local "pardon" which celebrates the saint to whom the chapel is dedicated. To permit some of the more beautiful chapels to be better known, modern art is displayed every summer in about 20 chapels in the area of Pontivy. See details on : [1]
  • Church (building)
  • Meeting house
  • Sacri Monti
  • Corpse road


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHAPEL, a place of religious worship, 1 a name properly applied to that of a Christian religious body, but sometimes to any small temple of pagan worship (Lat. sacellum). The word is derived through the O. Fr. chapele, modern chapelle, from the Late Lat. capelle or cappella, diminutive of cappa, a cape, particularly that of a monk. This word was transferred to any sanctuary containing relics, in the early history of the Frankish Church, because the cloak of St Martin, cappa brevior Sancti Martini, one of the most sacred relics of the Frankish kings, was carried in a sanctuary or shrine wherever the king went, and oaths were taken on it (see Ducange, Glossarium, s.v. Capella). Such a sanctuary was served by a priest, who was hence called capellanus, from which is derived the English "chaplain" (q.v.). The strict application of the word to a sanctuary containing relics was extended to embrace any place of worship other than a church, and it was synonymous, therefore, with "oratory" (oratorium), especially one attached to a palace or to a private dwelling-house. The celebrated Sainte Chapelle in Paris, attached to what is now the Palais de Justice, well illustrates the early and proper meaning of the word. It was built (consecration, 1248) by St Louis of France to contain the relic of the Crown of Thorns, ransomed by the king from the Venetians, who held it in pawn from the Latin emperor of the East, John of Brienne, lately dead. The chapel served as the sanctuary of the relic lodged in the upper chapel, and the whole building was attached as the place of worship to the king's palace. This, the primary meaning, survives in the chapels usually placed in the aisles of cathedrals and large churches. They were originally built either to contain relics of a particular saint to whom they were dedicated, or the tomb of a particular family.

1 The only other English sense is that of a printer's workshop, or the bod y of compositors in it, who are presided over by a "father of the chapel." In the Church of England the word is applied to a private place of worship, attached either to the palaces of the sovereign, "chapels royal," or to the residence of a private person, to a college, school, prison, workhouse, &c. Further, the word has particular legal applications, though in each case the building might be and often is styled a church. These are places of worship supplementary to a parish church, and may be either "chapels of ease," to ease or relieve the mother-church and serve those parishioners who may live far away, "parochial chapels," the "churches" of ancient divisions of a very large and widely scattered parish, or "district chapels," those of a district of a parish divided under the various church building acts. A "free chapel" is one founded by the king and by his authority, and visited by him and not by the bishop. A "proprietary chapel" is one that belongs to a private person. They are anomalies to the English ecclesiastical law, have no parish rights, and can be converted to other than religious purposes, but a clergyman may be licensed to perform duty in such a place of worship. In the early and middle part of the 19th century such proprietary chapels were common, but they have practically ceased to exist. "Chapel" was early and still is in England the general name of places of worship other than those of the established Church, but the application of "church" to all places of worship without distinction of sect is becoming more and more common. The word "chapel" was in this restricted sense first applied to places of worship belonging to the Roman Church in England, and was thus restricted to those attached to foreign embassies, or to those of the consorts of Charles I. and II. and James II., who were members of that church. The word is still frequently the general term for Roman Catholic churches in Great Britain and always so in Ireland. The use of "chapel" as a common term for all Nonconformist places of worship was general through most of the 19th century, so that "church and chapel" was the usual phrase to mark the distinction between members of the established Church and those of Nonconformist bodies. Here the widened use of "church" noticed above has been especially marked. Most of the recent buildings for worship erected by Nonconformist bodies will be found to be styled Wesleyan, Congregational, &c., churches. It would appear that while the word "chapel" was not infrequent in the early history of Nonconformity, "meeting-house" was the more usual term.

From the architectural point of view the addition of chapels to a cathedral or large church assumes some historical importance in consequence of the changes it involved in the plan. It was the introduction of the apsidal chapels in the churches of France which eventually led to the chevet or cluster of eastern chapels in many of the great cathedrals, and also sometimes to the extension of the transept so as to include additional apsidal chapels on the east side. In France, and to a certain extent in Italy, the multiplication of chapels led to their being placed on the north and south side of the aisles, and in some cases, as at Albi in France, to the suppression of the aisles and the instalment of the chapels in their place. The chapels of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge are sometimes of large dimensions and architecturally of great importance, that of Christ Church being actually the cathedral of Oxford; among others may be mentioned the chapel of Merton College, and the new chapel of Exeter College, both in Oxford, and the chapel of King's College, Cambridge, which is roofed over with perhaps the finest fan-vault in England. (See VAULT, Plate II., fig. 19.)

<< Chape

Jean Chapelain >>

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

a holy place or sanctuary, occurs only in Amos 7:13, where one of the idol priests calls Bethel "the king's chapel."

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Simple English

A chapel is a place for Christian worship. The word is used in several different ways. Generally, a chapel is a place of worship that is not a church which belongs to a parish in a village or town, but is more private or has a special purpose.


Private chapels

Small chapels

Some large houses and palaces have their own private chapel where the family and the servants of the house can worship.

Usually these chapels are small. As well as being used for prayers, the chapel might also hold the graves of members of the family, or else have memorials and statues around the walls.

Famous small family chapels are at Haddon Hall in Derbyshire and in the Riccardi Medici Palace in Florence. This small chapel has famous frescoes of the Three Kings by Benozzo Gozzoli.

Large chapels

Some private chapels are as large as very large churches. Because these large chapels can only be built by very rich people, they often have magnificent architecture or very rich decoration.

Some of the most famous large private chapels are St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, the Chapel Royal at Versailles Palace and the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Palace. The Sistine Chapel is the chapel of the popes and is famous for its ceiling painted by Michelangelo.

College chapels

Many universities, colleges, schools, law courts, hospitals and prisons have their own chapels. These might be a grand and beautiful building like the Eton College Chapel, or just a small room that is set aside for prayer.

At many schools, Chapel Service is an important part of the week, when the whole school gets together to pray and to sing hymns. Sometimes a big important church or cathedral might also act as a chapel. Oxford Cathedral is the chapel for Christ Church College of the University of Oxford. St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney acts as the chapel to 900 pupils of the cathedral school.

Chapels at churches

Monastic chapels

A monastery or a convent generally has a chapel where the monks or nuns can worship. This might be a private chapel, just the right size for the people at the monastery, or it might be a big church that serves a village or town as well, or even a cathedral for the whole region.

Many cathedrals show evidence that they were once used by monks as well as the town people. One of the signs is a large stone screen that divides the church into two areas. Often these churches have a lot of small chapels because the monks or nuns would each say private prayers in one of the small chapels every day.

Family chapels

From the Middle Ages, wealthy families would often give money to a church or cathedral so that a family chapel could be built attached to the church. There were several reasons for this. The family might want a place where they could pray privately outsde the regular service time. They might want to give thanks to God that a member of the family had been healed or rescued. They might want to bury dead family members and have prayers said every day. They might want to give honour to a particular saint. They might want to avoid taxation by spending a lot of money quickly. They might want to beautify their favorite church and make it bigger. They might want to make something beautiful that the whole town can use.

Whatever the reason might be, there are a great number of family chapels attached to old churches, all over Europe. The Church of Santa Croce in Florence is famous for its many chapels named after important Florentine families. One of the most famous chapels of this type is the one built by Henry VIII to bury his father at Westminster Abbey.

Special chapels

Many chapels have a special purpose in the church. One of the most important uses for a small chapel within a church is to store the Sacrament, the wine and bread or wafer which is used for Holy Communion. Some chapels are designed to remind worshippers of a particular part of the Life of Christ, particularly the Crucifixion or Resurrection, or celebrate a certain Feast Day in the Church Year, such as the Assumption of the Virgin.

Other chapels might hold the relics of a saint or a precious painting or statue of a particular saint such as Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Francis of Assisi or Saint Patrick.

Service chapels

It is usual for the armed services and other similar organisations to have special chapels at churches or cathedrals.

Most cathedrals have a chapel especially to remember local people who have served their country and perhaps died in a war. The chapel might have the colours or flags of the local regiment. Services may be held regularly, or on special days to remember a particular battle or a particular hero.

Protestant chapels

In many Protestant churches, the places where people gather for prayer and services are called chapels rather than churches. This is sometimes because the pastors of the congregation were not accepted as priests by the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches, or because they were set up in places where there was no priest to take services.

Wayside chapels

These are chapels built specially for the use of travellers who can drop in as they are passing by. They may be found in busy market places, deep in forests, on lonely mountain roads, and nowadays, at airports.

Funerary chapels

These chapels are found at cemeteries. Sometimes they are owned by a particular family and contain the tombs of family members, but in most large modern cemeteries the chapels are multi-denominational, meaning that they are for people of different Christian churches, and are used specifically for funeral services.

Other pages


  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 5th Edition. ISBN 0-19-860575-7

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address