oratory

Latin: oratorium, from orare, to pray

As a general term, signifies a place of prayer, but in canon law means a structure, other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass. Oratories are usually connected with monasteries and convents and charitable institutions. The code of canon law distinguishes three kinds of oratories

  • public, which is intended for the use of the members of a religious community or of an institution, but which the faithful at large may legitimately attend, at least during divine services, and to which they have access directly from the outside
  • semi-public, which is intended principally for the use of the religious community in whose house it is erected, and to which the faithful have no right of entry, though they may occasionally be allowed to attend some special function
  • private, or domestic, which is erected in a private house for the convenience of a private family