Faldstool is a portable folding chair, used by a bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 when not occupying the throne in his own cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

, or when officiating in a cathedral or church other than his own; hence any movable folding stool used during divine service.

Whatever the origins, it is difficult not to note the general resemblance to the curule chair
Curule chair
In the Roman Republic, and later the Empire, the curule seat was the chair upon which senior magistrates or promagistrates owning imperium were entitled to sit, including dictators, masters of the horse, consuls, praetors, censors, and the curule aediles...

 or sella curulis, which according to Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 supposedly derived its name from currus, "chariot"), and like the Roman toga
The toga, a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome, was a cloth of perhaps 20 ft in length which was wrapped around the body and was generally worn over a tunic. The toga was made of wool, and the tunic under it often was made of linen. After the 2nd century BC, the toga was a garment worn...

  originated in Etruria
Etruria—usually referred to in Greek and Latin source texts as Tyrrhenia—was a region of Central Italy, an area that covered part of what now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D. H...

, but much earlier stools supported on a cross-frame are known from the New Kingdom of Egypt.

Just as a campstool of similar form came to be used by military commanders in the field, so it became the ceremonial chair that accompanied the bishop in his official visitation
Canonical Visitation
A canonical visitation is the act of an ecclesiastical superior who in the discharge of his office visits persons or places with a view of maintaining faith and discipline, and of correcting abuses by the application of proper remedies.-Catholic usage:...

s. The bishop will either use the faldstool as a seat, or kneel in front of it, resting his forearms on it in prayer like a prie-dieu
A prie-dieu is a type of prayer desk primarily intended for private devotional use, but also often found in churches of the European continent. It is a small ornamental wooden desk furnished with a sloping shelf for books, and a cushioned pad on which to kneel. Sometimes, instead of the sloping...

, depending upon the rubrical requirements. Other prelate
A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means "carry before", "be set above or over" or "prefer"; hence, a prelate is one set over others.-Related...

s may be granted the use of a faldstool during services, with certain limitations. The faldstool may be covered with silk cloth in red, green or violet, depending upon the liturgical season or the rank of the prelate.

The term also describes the small, cushioned stool at which the British sovereign kneels at his coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...


In the Anglican Church, a faldstool is a desk at which a litany
A litany, in Christian worship and some forms of Jewish worship, is a form of prayer used in services and processions, and consisting of a number of petitions...

 is recited.

The term faldistory has a similar meaning.

External links

  • Faldstool article in the online edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

    , 1913
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