ecclesiastical architecture

The architecture of Christian and Catholic edifices such as churches, cathedrals, chapels, and monasteries. Strictly Christian and Catholic styles are the Latin or Basilican, the Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic. Ecclesiastical architecture in general comprises

Basilican: Saint Paul-without-the-Walls, RomeEarly Christian, Latin, or Basilican, dating from the edict of Constantine (A.D. 313) to the time of Pope Gregory the Great, a chronology, however, which is somewhat obscure. An example is Saint Paul-without-the-Walls, Rome. In England, this same style, modified by the Celtic, formed the Anglo-Saxon.


Byzantine: Saint Mark's, VeniceByzantine, of which examples are numerous, with particular reference to Saint Sophia’s, Constantinople, and Saint Mark’s, Venice, Italy. It dates approximately from the time of Justinian. Under Justinian as emperor the architects Anthemius and Isodorus designed its principal examples.


Romanesque: The Cathedral, SpeyerRomanesque, which was developing at the end of the Byzantine period, flourished after the decline of the Roman Empire, and lasted until the rise of the pointed arch in the 13th century. An example is the cathedral of Speyer. This style included Italian, French, German or Rhenish, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman. The name of Einhard is associated with Romanesque design, although many nameless ecclesiastical architects laboured only for the glory of God.


Gothic: The Cathedral of Saint Stephen, ViennaGothic, beginning at the end of the 12th century, before the decline of Romanesque. It includes numerous sub-styles such as English and French Gothic. An example of pure Gothic in the Cathedral of Saint Stephen’s, Vienna. Lincoln Cathedral, an example of Early English Gothic, is said to have been the beginning of this particular style, among the exponents of which Alan of Walsingham was responsible for the finest examples of Decorated English Gothic. Robert de Coucey designed the French Gothic cathedral of Rheims.


Barocco: San Maria Della Salute, VeniceRenaissance, which began in Italy in the early part of the 15th century, an example of which is Saint Peter’s, Rome, Italy. It includes Italian, Florentine, French, German, Spanish, and English (including Elizabethan), numbering among its distinguished designers Bramante and Michelangelo, and may be said to have ended with the Barocco or Baroque or Rococo, best exemplified by the works of Bernini and Borromini. Barocco flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries, an example of which is the church of San Maria della Salute, Venice.
Renaissance: Saint Peter's, Rome


Modern ecclesiastical architecture begins with a Gothic revival in the early 20th century, associated principally with the name of Augustus Welby Pugin through the impetus which he had given it during his time. Other names distinguished in modern ecclesiastical art are those of Bentley, Scott, McGinnis, Walsh, Monaghan, and Rambusch.

English Gothic: Lincoln CathedralFrench Gothic: The Cathedral, AmiensGothic is the style generally accepted for ecclesiastical building, since the present era is one of appraisal and criticism, and there are, in consequence, no new striking or individual styles. Consult special articles on these styles of architecture and on architectural terms such as apse, arch, architrave, etc.