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Not to be confused with Cedilla.
Fourteenth-century sedilia at Heckington (Lincolnshire)

In ecclesiastical architecture, sedilia (the plural of Lat. sedile, seat) are stone seats, found on the liturgical south side of an altar, often in the chancel, for the use during Mass for the officiating priest and his assistants, the deacon and sub-deacon. The seat is often set back into the main wall of the church itself.

When there is only one such seat, the singular form 'sedile' is used, as for instance at St Mary's, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire or at St Agatha's, Coates, West Sussex.

The first examples in the catacombs were single inlays for the officiating priest. In time the more usual number became three, although there are examples of up to five sedilia.[1]

The custom of recessing them in the thickness of the wall began about the end of the 12th century; some early examples consist only of stone benches, and there is one instance of a single seat or arm-chair in stone at Lenham in Kent.

The niches or recesses in which they are sunk are often richly decorated with canopies and subdivided with moulded shafts, pinnacles and tabernacle work; the seats are sometimes at different levels, the eastern being always the highest, and sometimes an additional niche is provided in which the piscina is placed.


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Sedilia". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.