• Greek: a picture screen


The chief and most distinctive feature in most Eastern churches, consisting of a solid screen which divides the sanctuary from the body of the church, shutting off the altar from the worshippers. The central one of the three doors is the great royal door. A large cross is on top and there must be two pictures but there are often more. As the Gothic builders used the reredos to beautify the altar so the Eastern Church uses the ornamental screen in front. Its nearest approach in the West is the rood screen. Originally the Eastern churches had only a slight barrier between the altar and nave. The open form of screen which adorned Saint Sophia was copied by other churches. The present form of wall-like barrier was adopted gradually, not coming into general use until after the Council of Florence, 1438.

MLA Citation

  • “iconostasis”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 December 2010. Web. 16 January 2019. <http://catholicsaints.info/iconostasis/>