Holy temple

The word Church with a capital C is used to name the Communion of Christians, while the same word with a small c serves to name the edifice were Church services are being held. This speaks clearly that the Communion of the faithful realizes itself as the Church of God, as a spiritual temple, in such a place where the Holy Liturgy is being served, i.e. in the church. Orthodox architecture, therefore, has its liturgical significance through symbolism complementing the very symbolism of the Liturgy itself. History of church architecture is extensive and it includes a grand manifestation of national expressions and styles that depend on moments in time coinciding with the actual time respective churches were being built. However, all Orthodox temples have one thing in common and this is the central idea that the temple of God is “Heaven on earth”, i.e. the place where by partaking in the Holy Liturgy of the Church we enter into communion (communication) with the ‘coming ages’, or the Kingdom of God.

The temple is usually seen as divided into three respective sections: entrance area or the vestibule (nartex), central section or the nave (naos), and altar section or the sanctuary – the mystical heart of the church. All three sections are decorated with fresco paintings and icons, which assist us in forging strong ties with saints – our intercessors in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is thus that we are able to taste the fullness of the Church at every Liturgy.

The material temple – the church, is not an end to itself. It is there to help us construct a spiritual temple – the Church of God.