Churches and Church-building in the Byzantine Tradition (Vol 3, Ch 2)

How did the Church go from worshipping at the Last Supper, gathering in upper rooms, meeting in homes to magnificent churches like Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople where we find a “united liturgical organism?” In this chapter we explore different regions of the world. We observe that Christians worshipped in different types of places and structures. For example, there are very early Roman subterranean catacombs, 4th c. basilicas in Georgia, an old pre-Byzantine Syrian church called Dura-Europas, rectangular and domed Roman basilicas, Russian basilicas, and Balkan basilicas that use a mix Western and Eastern styles of architecture. 

After the Arian heresy was settled in council in 381 and during the reign of Emperor Theodosius, the basilica structure flourished everywhere: Italy, Gaul, Egypt, Syria, Middle East, Asia Minor, and the Aegean islands of modern-day Greece. Whether we look at a basilica’s orientation, rooms, proportions, shape or materials, there is a connection to Scripture, Christ, and mankind. Nothing, it seems, is designed randomly for Orthodox churches. Find out why the church basilica is likened to Noah’s ship. Why else should you join us this Saturday evening? Because this chapter gives us a great start to understanding our surroundings much better when we worship, and it helps make us all more aware of the structural meaning that encompasses us during the Liturgy.