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A fairly large, elaborately carved prie-dieu with a built-in altar that can be closed
Prie-dieu facing the casket of the former US President John F. Kennedy in the East Room of the White House in 1963. The priests Robert Mohan and Gilbert Hartke are praying on two more to the right.

A prie-dieu (French: literally, "pray [to] God") is a type of prayer desk primarily intended for private devotional use, but which 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-dieu may be provided in church weddings for the bride and groom to kneel on during the service (either one long double prie-dieu or a pair), or may be used by a cleric when he leads the worshippers in prayers such as litanies and other prayers. 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.

See also[edit]


  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Prie-dieu" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 316.
  • Medieval and Renaissance prie-dieux