Crypt

DEFINITION

The chamber beneath the main floor of a church, usually containing graves or relics. It is typically vaulted, and wholly or partly underground. In medieval churches, it was usually under the apse or a chevet. The history of "crypt" starts with "kryptein," a Greek word meaning "to hide." From this word came "kryptos," meaning "hidden," which led to "crypta" ("vault, cavern"), another "kryptein" derivative, and the Latin predecessor of "crypt."An example: John Sell Cotman (English, 1782-1842), Crypt in the Church of St. Gervais, Rouen, 1819, pencil and wash on paper, 18.4 x 27.6 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See arch.Also see cathedral, cryptic, and reliquary.

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