[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F]
[G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L]
[M] [N] [O] [P] [Q]
[R] [S] [T] [U] [V]
[W] [X] [Y] [Z]


Aisle - The side passage which surrounds the main vessel of the church.

Aisle arches - The arches above the side aisles.

Alter - A table of wood or stone before which divine services are held.

Ambulatory - The extension of the aisles around the apse.

Apse - The eastern complex of the church, with all the parts within the curved section, including the ambulatory, chapels and roundpoint, called a chevet.

Arches - A carved structural member that spans an opening.

Archivolt - One of a series of concentric moldings on a Gothic arch.


Bay - A spatial division down the length of the building which divides it into sections from the floor to the roof. The pier marks the division between each bay.

Blanche of Castille - Queen Blanche, mother of St. Louis, wife of Louis VIII donor of entire composition of the northern facade rose and lancet windows.

Butress - The projection on the outside wall to absorb the side thrusts from ribs or arches.

Buttress arches - The flying portion of our flying buttresses.


Canopy - A protective roof. See porch.

Capitals - The carved stone which caps a column or pier and which forms the transition between the shape of the column and the arches over it.

Censers - A vessel in which incense is burned.

Chapel - A small room opening off the choir or the aisles.

Choir - The eastern end of the church from the crossing to the apse.

Clerestory - The uppermost story and the windows in it above the aisles, gallery and triforium.

Crossing - The bay where the nave, choir and transepts meet.

Crypt - The vaulted passage and chapels beneath the main floor.


Flamboyant - Flame like, applied to aspects of the Late Gothic Style, particularly tracery.

Flamboyant Gothic - The last phase of French Gothic (fourteenth, fifteenth and part of sixteenth century), named after its flame-like tracery.

Flying buttresses - Where the high vaults meet the wall of the clerestory. The side thrust is carried to the outside buttresses by an arch or group of arches that span the aisle roof.

Formwork - Temporary wood structures used in constructing the ribbing and vaulting. Also known as centering.

Foundation - The stonework below the ground that supports the entire structure.

Fresco - Painting on wet plaster whereby the pigment becomes absorbed into the wall rather than sitting on top of it.


Greek Cross - A cross in which all the arms are the same length.


Iconography - Applies to the symbolic meaning of images depicted in works of art.

Inner flyers - The inner flying buttress arch over a double aisle, usually at the apse end.


Jamb - One of a pair of vertical parts that form the side of a door.


Labyrinth - A symbolic maze which for our purposes applies to the intricate symmetrical diagrams found on Cathedral floors.

Lancet window - Slender rectangular window with pointed arch.

Lintel - A beam of any material used to span an opening.

Lubin, St.: Bishop of Chartres in 558 AD

Lunette - A semicircular opening above a window or door.


Mosaic - Images created by setting small pieces of glass and stone in cement or plaster on a wall.

Mullion - A vertical post that divides a window into two or more parts.


Nave - The central vessel of the church, between the aisles and under the high vaults; also the western half of the building ("nave end").

Nimbus - A halo appearing around the head of a holy figure to signify divinity.


Outer flyers - The outer flying buttress arch over a double aisle, usually at the apse end.


Paten - A plate of gold or silver used to hold the host during the Eucharist.

Piers - Compound columns supporting the arcades down each side of the main vessel, which may comprise groups of individual shafts or a monolithic unit.

Porch - The covered projecting structure in front of the doorway.

Portal - A doorway, entrance or gate. One that is large and imposing.


Quatrefoil - An architectural ornament having four lobes or foils.


Rayonnant - A thirteenth-century slender radiant style from the court of Louis IX.

Ribbing - Arches used to support the vault.

Rose window - A round window, sometimes with tracery set into it.


St. Anne - Mother of Virgin Mary, who, according to the apocryphal gospel called Protoevangelium Jacabi, also was visited by an angel and conceived a child.

Suger, Abbot of St. Denis who was the prime spokesperson for the elaborate Gothic architectural style.


Tie rods - Steel rods placed between walls and piers or between piers to keep them from separating from each other.

Tracery - Ornamental intersecting stonework used to support the glass.

Transept - The section that crosses the nave, usually separating the nave and the choir.

Trefoil - An architectural ornament having three lobes; Decorative element with three lobes.

Triforium - The middle story, between the aisles and the clerestory, designed as a passage that is screened from the nave with an arcade of columns.

Trumeau - A pillar in the center of a Gothic portal.

Tympanum - The space enclosed by a lintel and an arch over a doorway.

Typology - The use of prototypes and antitypes as in the use of the Old Testament as a prefiguration of the New.


Upper flyers - The upper arch of a multi-arched flying buttress system.


Vaults - Arched masonry ceilings where the different parts of the curved stonework leans against each other for support.