June 20, 2021

The Iconostasis and the Rood Screen

Indy Churches, Gothic Revival, Fort Wayne Churches, Greenwood Churches, Architecture

This post was inspired by today's Bible study at my church, Concordia Lutheran in Greenwood. Someone asked a question about the Jewish temple veil that split when Jesus was crucified and that ignited questions and comments about church bodies that still utilize forms of structural separations in their churches today. This post will be a very simplified version of the history of this topic and I welcome corrections! I've linked some Wikipedia articles to relevant terms so that the reader and venture into whatever clickholes they choose.

In Jewish tradition, the Holy of Holies was reserved solely for the High Priest to enter once a year on Yom Kippur. This was the place that God's presence dwelled. This room was covered and protected by a veil.

Today, some Christian traditions still utilize a form of physical separation between the congregation and the area where the bread and wine are consecrated into the body and blood. When taught correctly, it's a beautiful way to view the space where Christ's presence is made known. Below are the examples that I've photographed.

Christ Episcopal Cathedral

Christ Cathedral sits on Monument Circle in Indy. It has a rood screen- the dark wooden structure that forms a barrier between the nave and the apse. It contained beautifully satisfying gothic tracery and stands out perfectly against the white walls.

Trinity Episcopal

Architecturally, Trinity is one of my favorite churches. It was built in the Norman Gothic Revival style with a gorgeously decorated rood screen riddled with gothic details and bright colors.

St. Athanasius Byzantine Catholic

I'm a Lutheran. Therefore, I'm wildly unfamiliar with the different rites in Catholicism. I had the honor of visiting St. Athanasius Byzantine Catholic church, the only Byzantine Catholic church in central or Southern Indiana. This church has what is called an Iconostasis or more simply, an icon screen. It forms a thoroughly physical separation between the congregation and the Holy of Holies. Only priests are allowed to enter. I was fully content to photograph it through the doors.

Communion Rails

I told my friend, Lee (Old Churches Indy) that I was writing this post and asked him to remind me which churches in Indianapolis have screens to make sure I didn't miss any. He followed up with "a communion rail is just a paired-down rood screen" which sent me into a rabbit hole of searching through all my church photos for images of communion rails. Here's what I found. Included are Lutheran, Methodist, and Episcopal churches. That's not an all-inclusive list of the denominations that have communion rails. In order they are;

Bethlehem Lutheran- Ft. Wayne

Zion Lutheran- Ft. Wayne

Kramer Chapel (Lutheran)- Ft. Wayne

Concordia Lutheran- Greenwood

Emmaus Lutheran- Indianapolis

Bethlehem Lutheran- Indianapolis

Greenwood Methodist

St. John's Lutheran- Indianapolis

St. Paul's Lutheran- Ft. Wayne

Meridian St. United Methodist- Indianapolis

St. Peter's Lutheran- Indianapolis

North United Methodist- Indianapolis

All Saints Episcopal- Indianapolis