Information Sheet 52


To ascertain the meaning of liturgical requirements vis-à-vis space, that is, what the liturgy requires for its best celebration, the following resource material should be consulted:

The Place of Worship:

The Place of Worship (Dublin, Veritas, 1996) is the primary resource. It is the pastoral directory on the building and re-ordering of churches prepared by the Advisory Committee on Sacred Art and Architecture.

Liturgical Books:

The prayers, readings and actions of the liturgical rites express the meaning of the Church's worship. The introductions or praenotanda of the liturgical books are important summaries of the Church's understanding of its worship and of the implications of this for art and architecture in the variety of liturgical services.

Of special note are the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in particular chapter V: Arrangements and Furnishing of Churches for the Eucharistic Celebration, and chapter VI: Requisites for Celebrating Mass, and the Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar.

Many of these documents may be found in Austin Flannery, OP (ed), Vatican Council II: Conciliar and Postconciliar Documents, 2 vols. (Dublin, Dominican Publications, 1975/1992), in Documents of the Liturgy 1963-1979; Conciliar, Papal and Curial Texts (Collegeville, Liturgical Press, 1982) and in Mark G. Boyer, The Liturgical Environment. What the Documents Say (Collegeville, Liturgical Press. 1990).

Other National Directories:

Two national directories are well worth noting: Environment and Art in Catholic Worship is the statement of the United States Catholic Conference (1977) and Our Place of Worship from Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (2000).

The directory, The Parish Church: Principles of Liturgical Design and Re-ordering, from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (1983) is no longer in print.

Other books:

For a theological and liturgical understanding of many topics (e.g. altar, baptistery, Eucharistic reservation and chapel). Peter E. Fink, SJ, (ed), The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship (Collegeville, Liturgical Press, 1990) is very accessible.

Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago have several helpful studies including Marchita Mauck, Shaping a House for the Church (1990), Regina Kuehn, A Place for Baptism (1992). It also published a series of booklets called Meeting House Essays.

Also noteworthy is Richard Giles, Re-pitching the Tent: Re-ordering the Church Building for Worship and Mission in the New Millennium (Norwich, Canterbury Press, rev. 1997).


Of particular note are: Environment and Art Letter, edited by Davis Philippart (Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications), Church Building (Manchester, Gabriel Communications) and Chroniques d'Art Sacré (Paris, Centre National de Pastorale Liturgique).

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