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church, underground and crypts

CRYPT, in architecture, a cell or vault constructed underground. The galleries of the catacombs and the catacombs themselves were known by this name in the early Christian era. The underground tombs of the Christian martyrs were so called where the early Chris tians met to perform their devotions, for fear of persecution. Hence crypt came to signify a church underground, or the lower story of a church, which may be set apart for monumental purposes, or used as a chapel. It came to oc cupy the entire space under the choir; and often the part of the church above it was elevated and approached by flights of stairs, in order to give height to the crypt. The crypt is not common in churches built after the Norman period and when found in those of the Gothic period is usually much older than the structure above them. The position of a crypt is generally beneath the choir, but occasionally, as at Glas gow Cathedral, beneath the transept also. The largest crypt in England is that at Canterbury Cathedral. Crypts rarely occur as a feature of

a parish church. The larger crypt at Glasgow Cathedral is entirely above ground and at one time was used by itself as a church. In Ger many, these underground chapels are numerous the ones at Gottingen, Strassburg and Naum berg are fine examples of architecture. The most remarkable crypt in Italy is that of Saint Marks, Venice, which is in the shape of a Greek cross. Short columns support low arches on which the floor above rests. Other Italian crypts are at Brescia, Fiesole, Modena, Milan, Pavia, Verona, Florence; and a particularly fine one at Assisi. A good example of Norman crypt is to be seen at the church of the Holy Trinity at Caen, France. In this country are notable crypts at Saint-Chapelle, Paris, and at Saint Gervase, Rouen. Later churches abolished the necessity for this form of chapel.