South third of the narthex of Saint Patrick Church; Lowell, MA

(Credit: Wikipedia user Emw)

Basically, the “lobby” of a Christian church.

From Wikipedia:

[…] 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.

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