34kb jpg New Catholic Dictionary illustration for 'atrium' In Roman architecture the principal entrance hall or reception room of a residence; in church architecture an open court, consisting of a large quadrangle, with colonnaded walks on four sides, forming a cloister between the porch and the body of the church, and containing a fountain for washing the hands. Here the first class of penitents congregated to solicit prayers, and here, too, Christians were buried. The covered portion near the church was the narthex, which exists only occasionally now and has been reduced to a narrow inner entrance.

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