In church architecture, sedilia (plural of Latin sedīle, "seat") are seats, usually made of stone, found on the liturgical south side of an altar, often in the chancel, for 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.
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 into 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.
Examples of Sedilia
Twelfth-century sedile at Coates, West Sussex
Fifteenth-century piscina and sedilia, Lincluden Collegiate Church, Dumfries and Galloway
Sedilia at Ardfert Cathedral, Co. Kerry
A six-seater sedilia of c1200 in the Priory church of Deeping St James, Lincolnshire
Sedilia in the Canons' church, Klooster Ter Apel, Boslaan in Ter Apel, Netherlands
Gothic sedilia in the chancel of Kilfenora Cathedral, Co. Clare
Fourteenth-century sedilia at Heckington, Lincolnshire
Early twentieth-century sedilia, St Mellitus Church, Hanwell, London W7
15th-century Gothic sedile, St Mary's, Bletchingley
An ornately carved panel on sedilia at St. Willibrord's Church, Utrecht
Free-standing sedile or chair with desk in Alsike Kyrka, Knivsta, Sweden
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. .
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- James Alexander Cameron, “From Hole-in-the-Wall to Heavenly Mansions: The Microarchitectural Development of Sedilia in Thirteenth-Century England”, in Jean-Marie Guillouët and Ambre Vilain (eds.), Microarchitectures médiévales. L'échelle à l'épreuve de la matière, Paris, INHA/Picard, 2018 (ISBN 978-2-7084-1042-8).