School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses

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Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

Martin Connell

Subject Categories

History of Christianity | Liturgy and Worship


This study attempts to answer three questions: how does church architecture influence worship and theology; how do worship and theology shape the worship space; and how does the community at prayer affect that space? The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis in Paris, which has stood where it is today for more than 1500 years, was chosen as the context for this study. Abundant archeological, artistic and epigraphic data not only testify to its importance in history, but also trace the course of its evolution from small monastic chapel to church to basilica to royal abbey. Conciliar and canonical documentary evidence attest to the evolving liturgical practices in France during those several centuries. And the various communities of Saint-Denis left innumerable traces of their occupation as they prayed and worshiped and shaped the liturgy and the liturgical space of that church.

The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis proved to be the perfect case study and the result was very informative and illuminating. The implications for current church building and renovation are numerous and relevant, and the surprising answer to the initial questions is that all three aspects are inter-dependant, each as important as the other in shaping the unique life and spirit of a church.


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