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10. Of the Doors of the church

Antiquities of the Christian Church
CHAPTER IX. Of Churches and Sacred Places

10. Of the Doors of the church

To insure due secresy in celebrating the mysteries of their religion, the ancient Christians constructed the doors of their churches with peculiar care. As we have already seen, they set apart, by the solemn rites of ordination, a class of men to guard the doors, and prevent the intrusion, not only of the profane, but of their own catechumens and penitents. Such was the profound secresy in which they celebrated certain of their religious rites. In all this they imitated the Jews; and the early fathers, like the writers of the Old and New Testaments, from this usage derived abundant metaphors relating to the doors of the church, of heaven, of the kingdom, etc. Compare the following passages of Scripture, among many others: 2 Chron. 8:14, Ps. 84:11, 118:19, 20, John 10:1, 20:19, Acts 14:27, Rev. 22:14, etc.

It was customary, in the earliest ages of Christianity, to post upon the doors of the church the names of all excommunicated persons. At a period somewhat later, persons intending marriage were also published in the same manner. This was also the place for posting all proclamations and decisions of the church, and public notices of every kind.

There were generally three main entrances to the churches, and these were provided with outer and inner doors, distinguished by the names *. The different sexes entered by different doors;. these were made of the choicest and most durable wood, wrought with peculiar care, and richly ornamented with arabesque, bronze, gold, or silver plate; not unfrequently they were made of solid brass or bronze. Several of this kind still remain in the different countries of Europe. 

The date of the building or dedication of the church, was usually inscribed on the doors. In addition to this there were inscriptions of various kinds, consisting of a motto, a doctrinal sentiment, a passage of Scripture, a doxology, or a prayer. A single specimen is here given, as taken from an ancient church. On the outer side of the door:

Pax tibi sit, qiiincunque Dei penetralia Christi
Pectore pacifico Candidas ingrederis.

On the inside:

Quisquis ab aede Dei, perfcctis ordine votis,
Egrederis, rernea corpori; corde mane.

Constit. Apost. lib. vili. c. 28: Ignatii, ep. ad Antioch. c. 12.

Fiorillos Kunst-Geschichte: Leibnitz, Scriptor. Rer. Brunsvic. torn. i. p. 446–63: Schrockh's Kirch. Gesch. 21. 187–88.

(* denotes Greek text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)


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