Prie-dieu

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Prie-dieux facing the casket of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in the East Room of the White House in 1963. Msgr. Robert Mohan and Fr. Gilbert Hartke are praying on two more to the right.
A fairly large, elaborately carved prie-dieu with an altar.

A prie-dieu (French: literally, "pray [to] God", plural prie-dieux) is a type of prayer desk primarily intended for private devotional use, but may also be found in churches. It is a small, ornamental wooden desk furnished with a thin, sloping shelf for books or hands, and a kneeler. Sometimes, instead of the sloping shelf, a padded arm rest will be provided. This type is useful for devotions, such as the Rosary which do not require a book, or for private, non-liturgical prayer.

The prie-dieu appears not to have received its present name until the early 17th century. In that period in France, a small room or oratory was sometimes known by the same name. A similar form of chair in domestic furniture is called "prie-dieu" by analogy. Sometimes, a prie-dieu will consist only of the sloped shelf for books without the kneeler.

Prie-dieux may be provided in church weddings for the bride and groom to kneel on during the service, or may be used by a cleric when he leads the worshippers in prayers such as litanies.

In the Byzantine Rite, a prie-dieu is provided for the bishop when he kneels in the Holy Doors during the consecration of a church. One may also be used by the priest reciting Kneeling Prayers at Pentecost.

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