A crypt (from Latin crypta "vault") is a stone chamber beneath the floor of a church or other building. It typically contains coffins, sarcophagi, or religious relics.
Originally, crypts were typically found below the main apse of a church, such as at the Abbey of Saint-Germain en Auxerre, but were later located beneath chancel, naves and transepts as well. Occasionally churches were raised high to accommodate a crypt at the ground level, such as St Michael's Church in Hildesheim, Germany.
"Crypt" developed as an alternative form of the Latin "vault" as it was carried over into Late Latin, and came to refer to the ritual rooms found underneath church buildings. It also served as a vault for storing important and/or sacred items.
"Crypta", however, is also the female form of crypto "hidden". The earliest known origin of both is in the Ancient Greek κρύπτω (krupto/krypto), the first person singular indicative of the verb "to conceal, to hide".
First known in the early Christian period, in particular North Africa at Chlef and Djemila in Algeria, and Byzantium at Saint John Studio in Constantinople where Christian churches have been built over mithraea, the mithraeum has often been adapted to serve as a crypt.
The famous crypt at Old St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, developed about the year 600, as a means of affording pilgrims a view of Saint Peter's tomb, which lay according to the Roman fashion, directly below the high altar. The tomb was made accessible through an underground passageway beneath the sanctuary from where pilgrims could enter at one stair, pass by the tomb and exit without interrupting the clerical community's service at the altar directly above.
Crypts were introduced into Frankish church building in the mid-8th century, as a feature of its Romanization. Their popularity then spread more widely in western Europe under Charlemagne. Examples from this period are most common in the early medieval West, for example in Burgundy at Dijon and Tournus.
After the 10th century the early medieval requirements of a crypt faded, as church officials permitted relics to be held in the main level of the church. By the Gothic period crypts were rarely built, however burial vaults continued to be constructed beneath churches and referred to as crypts.
In more modern terms, a crypt is most often a stone chambered burial vault used to store the deceased. Placing a corpse into a crypt can be called immurement, and is a method of final disposition, as an alternative to for example cremation. Crypts are usually found in cemeteries and under public religious buildings, such as churches or cathedrals, but are also occasionally found beneath mausolea or chapels on personal estates. Wealthy or prestigious families will often have a 'family crypt' or 'vault' in which all members of the family are interred. Many royal families, for example, have vast crypts containing the bodies of dozens of former royalty. In some localities an above ground crypt is more commonly called a mausoleum, which also refers to any elaborate building intended as a burial place, for one or any number of people.
There was a trend in the 19th century of building crypts on medium to large size family estates, usually subtly placed on the edge of the grounds or more commonly incorporated into the cellar. After a change of owner these are often blocked up and the house deeds will not allow this area to be re-developed.
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held. In the 12th century it developed into the Gothic style, marked by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman architecture. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
The Panthéon is a monument in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France. It is located in the area known as the Latin Quarter, standing atop the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, at the center of the Place du Panthéon which was named after it. The edifice was built from 1758 to 1790 over the designs of Jacques-Germain Soufflot at the behest of King Louis XV of France, who meant is as a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, the city's patron saint, whose relics were to be housed there. Neither Soufflot nor Louis XV however lived to see the church completed.
The Basilica of Saint-Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the city of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of singular importance historically and architecturally as its choir, completed in 1144, shows the first use of all of the elements of Gothic architecture.
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be called immurement, and is a method of final disposition, as an alternative to for example cremation or burial.
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, or simply Saint Peter's Basilica, is a church built in the Renaissance style located in Vatican City, the papal enclave which is within the city of Rome.
The architecture of cathedrals, basilicas and abbey churches is characterised by the buildings' large scale and follows one of several branching traditions of form, function and style that all ultimately derive from the Early Christian architectural traditions established in the Constantinian period.
In religion, a relic usually consists of the physical remains of a saint or the personal effects of the saint or venerated person preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Shamanism, and many other religions. Relic derives from the Latin reliquiae, meaning "remains", and a form of the Latin verb relinquere, to "leave behind, or abandon". A reliquary is a shrine that houses one or more religious relics.
Saint Peter's tomb is a site under St. Peter's Basilica that includes several graves and a structure said by Vatican authorities to have been built to memorialize the location of Saint Peter's grave. St. Peter's tomb is near the west end of a complex of mausoleums that date between about AD 130 and AD 300. The complex was partially torn down and filled with earth to provide a foundation for the building of the first St. Peter's Basilica during the reign of Constantine I in about AD 330. Though many bones have been found at the site of the 2nd-century shrine, as the result of two campaigns of archaeological excavation, Pope Pius XII stated in December 1950 that none could be confirmed to be Saint Peter's with absolute certainty. Following the discovery of bones that had been transferred from a second tomb under the monument, on June 26, 1968, Pope Paul VI said that the relics of Saint Peter had been identified in a manner considered convincing.
An altar stone is a piece of natural stone containing relics in a cavity and intended to serve as the essential part of an altar for the celebration of Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. Consecration by a bishop of the same rite was required. In the Byzantine Rite, the antimension, blessed and signed by the bishop, serves a similar function.
The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi, a town in the Umbria region in central Italy, where Saint Francis was born and died. It is a Papal minor basilica and one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying friary, Sacro Convento, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.
Pre-Romanesque art and architecture is the period in European art from either the emergence of the Merovingian kingdom in about 500 CE or from the Carolingian Renaissance in the late 8th century, to the beginning of the 11th century Romanesque period. The term is generally used in English only for architecture and monumental sculpture, but here all the arts of the period are briefly described.
Merovingian art is the art of the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks, which lasted from the 5th century to the 8th century in present-day France, Benelux and a part of Germany. The advent of the Merovingian dynasty in Gaul in the 5th century led to important changes in the field of arts. Sculpture regressed to be little more than a simple technique for the ornamentation of sarcophagi, altars and ecclesiastical furniture. On the other hand, gold work and the new medium of manuscript illumination integrated "barbarian" animal-style decoration, with Late Antique motifs, and other contributions from as far as Syria or Ireland to constitute Merovingian art.
Palermo Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palermo, located in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. As an architectural complex, it is characterized by the presence of different styles, due to a long history of additions, alterations and restorations, the last of which occurred in the 18th century.
The Abbey of St Martial was a monastery in Limoges, France, founded in 848 and dissolved in 1791.
Hosios Loukas is a historic walled monastery situated near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greece. It is one of the most important monuments of Middle Byzantine architecture and art, and has been listed on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, along with the monasteries of Nea Moni and Daphnion.
Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is a titular church in Piazza Euclide, Rome. It was built by the architect Armando Brasini (1879–1965). Its construction began in 1923 with the design of a Greek cross inscribed in a circle with an articulated facade, and completed before 1936, the year in which it was made a parish church and granted to the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Sacred Immaculate Heart of Mary, usually known as the Claretian Missionaries. A grand dome was planned, but never realized; a smaller drum was completed in 1951.
Bari Cathedral is the cathedral of Bari, in Apulia, southern Italy, senior to, though less famous than, the Basilica of St Nicholas in the same city. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Bari-Bitonto, as it was previously of the archbishops, earlier bishops, of Bari. It is dedicated to Saint Sabinus, a bishop of Canosa, whose relics were brought here in the 9th century.
The Abbey of Santa Giustina is a 10th-century Benedictine abbey complex located in front of the Prato della Valle in central Padua, region of Veneto, Italy. Adjacent to the former monastery is the basilica church of Santa Giustina, initially built in the 6th century, but whose present form derives from a 17th-century reconstruction.
The Catacombs of San Sebastiano are a hypogeum cemetery in Rome (Italy), rising along Via Appia Antica, in the Ardeatino Quarter. They are one of the very few Christian burial places that have always been accessible. The first of the former four floors is now almost completely destroyed.
Romanesque architecture appeared in France at the end of the 10th century, with the development of feudal society and the rise and spread of monastic orders, particularly the Dominicans, which built many important abbeys and monasteries in the style. It continued to dominate religious architecture until the appearance of French Gothic architecture in the Ile-de-France between about 1140-1150.