A Guide to Solemn High Mass. Part IV: Sedilia

A sedilia is a specially constructed rack for storing surplus clergy. In a typical Ritualist parish, particularly when a “solemn” service is in progress, dealing with excessive numbers of priests can be a major problem. If there is extra room in the choir stalls, priests can be seated “in choir”; this does not mean that they are expected to sing, but indicates that it is the choir’s responsibility to prevent them from wandering off during the service. The remaining clergy usually congregate in the chancel area, where they can cause serious traffic problems; because priests are easily confused, they frequently bump into things or disturb the acolytes. It is the responsibility of the MC to gather up these clergy and put them in the sedilia until they are needed again. If the church does not possess a dedicated sedilia, a broom closet can serve the same purpose.

Typically, a sedilia consists of three slots for the three sacred ministers of the Solemn High Mass: deacon, subdeacon, and amanuensis. Although it is always placed on the south wall of the chancel, its construction may vary; it may be an elaborately carved stone structure, or it may be a freestanding piece of wooden furniture. Although most Ritualists prefer a traditional stone sedilia, a minority of priests advocate for a more modern style, which can include such conveniences as cupholders and a small television.

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