From Academic Kids

A chapel is a private church, usually small and often attached to a larger institution such as a college, a hospital, a palace, or a prison. One of the best known is the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, famous for Michelangelo's paintings on its ceilings. Another famous chapel is a part of King's College, Cambridge in England, which also has a renowned choir.

In canon law, a distinction is made between a chapel, an oratory, and a church. Churches are fully public buildings and anyone can attend services there. Oratories are semi-private as some people besides the owners can attend services with permission of the bishop, and chapels are completely private and are opened to public use only by permission of the owners.



The earliest Christian places of worship are now often referred to as chapels, as they were not dedicated buildings but rather a dedicated chamber within a building, such as a room in an individual's house. However, the earliest chapels that were identified separate from a church or a presbytery were the memorials constructed for the Martyr's. However, even at this point they were not refered to as a chapel.

That terminology came later from a relic of Saint Martin. He gave half of his military cloak to a beggar in need. The other half he wore over his shoulders as a cape (Latin capella). This cape came into the posession of the Frankish kings, and they kept the relic with them as they did battle. The tent which kept the cape was called the capella and the priests who said daily Mass in the tent were known as the capellani. From these words we get the names "chapel" and "chaplain".

In English history, "chapel" was formerly the required designation of the churches of nonconformist faiths, which is to say, any Protestant churches outside of the established Church of England. It was a word particularly associated with religious practice in Wales.

This distinction had an impact in the Irish language in the Middle Ages, as Welsh people came with the Norman and Old English invaders to the island of Ireland. While the traditional Irish word for church was éaglais, a new word, ceipéal (from chapel) came into usage.

Types of Chapel

  • Side Chapels - a chapel within a cathedral or larger church.
  • Lady Chapels - these are really a form of side chapel, but have been included separately as they are extremely prevalent in the Catholic church. They are dedicated to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Ambassador's Chapels - allow ambassadors from Roman Catholic countries to worship whilst on duty in Protestant countries.
  • Bishop's Chapels - Bishops are permitted the right to have a chapel in their own home, even when travelling.
  • Chapels of Ease - constructed in large parishes to allow parishoners easy access to a church or chapel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, chapels are local church buildings. The name of the church is on the outside of the building, and there is usually a steeple without a cross. In the main room of the chapel used for the Sacrament meeting there are no paintings, flags, statues, carvings, or symbols. Although some chapels have pictures on stained glass. There are pictures or paintings in the hallways and in the classrooms and offices. There is an office for the Bishop or Branch President of the local "Ward" or "Branch" of the church. There are several classrooms used for Sunday School, Seminary classes, and youth groups on Sunday and throughout the week.

Stake Centers are also used for weekly services.

Related Links


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