South third of the narthex of Saint Patrick Church; Lowell, MA
(Credit: Wikipedia user Emw)
Basically, the “lobby” of a Christian church.
[…] the entrance or lobby area, located at the west end of the nave, opposite the church’s main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper.
There was a specific purpose to it:
The purpose of the narthex was to allow those not eligible for admittance into the general congregation (particularly catechumens and penitents) to hear and partake of the service.
Why I Looked It Up
My dad was a pastor, and in the church he preached at – First Baptist of Ojai, California – we spoke of “the narthex.”
I was monitoring the security cameras at my current church the other day, and I was talking to someone about the big lobby area we call “Grand Central.” I just got to wondering why we don’t use the word “narthex” anymore.
I asked my Dad if we used the word with any religious significance:
It was a carry-over old word for lobby. I still have to remind older members to call it lobby.