A refectory is a dining room
A dining room is a room for consuming food. In modern times it is usually adjacent to the kitchen for convenience in serving, although in medieval times it was often on an entirely different floor level...
, especially in monasteries
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...
, boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...
s and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries
A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry...
. It is derived from the Latin reficere: to remake or restore, via Late Latin
Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of Late Antiquity. The English dictionary definition of Late Latin dates this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD extending in Spain to the 7th. This somewhat ambiguously defined period fits between Classical Latin and Medieval Latin...
refectorium, which means a place one goes to be restored.
Refectories and monastic culture
Communal meals provided one of the times in which all the monks of an establishment were together. Diet and eating habits differed somewhat by order
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...
, and more widely by time period. The Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...
rule may be described as illustrative.
The Rule of St Benedict
Rule of St Benedict
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written by St. Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Since about the 7th century it has also been adopted by communities of women...
orders two meals. Dinner
Dinner is usually the name of the main meal of the day. Depending upon culture, dinner may be the second, third or fourth meal of the day. Originally, though, it referred to the first meal of the day, eaten around noon, and is still occasionally used for a noontime meal, if it is a large or main...
was provided for year-round; supper
Supper is the name for the evening meal in some dialects of English - ordinarily the last meal of the day. Originally, in the Middle Ages, it referred to the lighter meal following dinner, where until the 18th century dinner was invariably eaten as the midday meal.The term is derived from the...
was also served from late spring to early fall, except for Wednesdays and Fridays. The diet originally consisted of simple fare: two dishes, with fruit as a third course if available. The food was simple, with the meat of mammals forbidden to all but the sick. Moderation in all aspects of diet was the spirit of Benedict's law. Meals were eaten in silence, facilitated sometimes by hand signals. A single monk might read from the Scriptures or writings of the saints aloud during the meals.
By the middle of the twelfth century, this early austerity had been softened. The softening occurred primarily because of the expansion of the Calendar of saints
Calendar of saints
The calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints and referring to the feast day of said saint...
, which allowed for more elaborate meals in conjunction with longer services, candlelight, and the wearing of cope
The cope is a liturgical vestment, a very long mantle or cloak, open in front and fastened at the breast with a band or clasp. It may be of any liturgical colour....
s. Diet was also expanded by various equivocations or discriminations: most significantly, food consumed in the refectory was differentiated from extra food consumed elsewhere (often in a small room built for this purpose.) The Rule was considered to be followed if a certain percentage of monks, generally more than half, ate the regular meal in the refectory.
Size, structure, and placementRefectories varied in size and dimension, based primarily on the wealth and size of the monastery, as well as the period in which the room was built. They shared certain design features. Monks ate at long benches; important officials sat at raised benches at one end of the hall. Outside the refectory usually stood a lavabo
A lavabo is a device used to provide water for the washing of hands. It consists normally of a ewer or container of some kind to pour water, and a bowl to catch the water as it falls off the hands. In ecclesiastical usage it refers to both the basin in which the priest washes his hands and the...
, or large basin for hand-washing. Other factors were also largely fixed by tradition. In England, the refectory was generally built on an undercroft
An undercroft is traditionally a cellar or storage room, often brick-lined and vaulted, and used for storage in buildings since medieval times. In modern usage, an undercroft is generally a ground area which is relatively open to the sides, but covered by the building above.- History :While some...
(perhaps in an allusion to the upper room in which the Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...
reportedly took place) on the side of the cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...
opposite the church. Benedictine models were generally laid out on an east-west axis, while Cistercian models lay north-south.
About|Romanesque architecture, primarily English|other buildings in Normandy|Architecture of Normandy.File:Durham Cathedral. Nave by James Valentine c.1890.jpg|thumb|200px|The nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the...
refectories could be as large as 160 feet (48.8 m) long by 35 feet (10.7 m) wide (as is that in the abbey at Norwich
Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...
). Even relatively early refectories might have windows, but these became larger and more elaborate in the high medieval period: the refectory at Cluny Abbey
Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was built in the Romanesque style, with three churches built in succession from the 10th to the early 12th centuries....
was lit through thirty-six large glazed windows. That in the twelfth-century abbey at Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre off the country's north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches...
had six windows, five feet wide by twenty feet high.
In Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...
monasteries, the Refectory is considered to be a sacred place, and even in some cases is constructed as a full church with Altar
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship...
In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church...
. Some services are intended to be performed specifically in the Trapeza. There is always at least one Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...
with a lampada (oil lamp) kept burning in front of it. The service of the Lifting of the Panagia is performed at the end of meals. During Bright Week
Bright Week or Renewal Week is the name used by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite for the period of seven days beginning on Pascha and continuing up to the following Sunday, which is known as Thomas Sunday...
, this service is replaced with the Lifting of the Artos. In some monasteries, the Ceremony of Forgiveness
Clean Monday , also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Great Lent...
at the beginning of Great Lent
Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important fasting season in the church year in Eastern Christianity, which prepares Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha . In many ways Great Lent is similar to Lent in Western Christianity...
is performed in the Trapeza. All food served in the Trapeza should be blessed, and for that purpose, holy water
Holy water is water that, in Catholicism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and some other churches, has been sanctified by a priest for the purpose of baptism, the blessing of persons, places, and objects; or as a means of repelling evil.The use for baptism and...
is often kept in the kitchen.
Modern usageAs well as continued use of the historic monastic meaning, the word Refectory is often used in a modern context to refer to a café
A café , also spelled cafe, in most countries refers to an establishment which focuses on serving coffee, like an American coffeehouse. In the United States, it may refer to an informal restaurant, offering a range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches...
A cafeteria is a type of food service location in which there is little or no waiting staff table service, whether a restaurant or within an institution such as a large office building or school; a school dining location is also referred to as a dining hall or canteen...
which is open to the public, including non-worshippers such as tourists, attached to a cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...
. This usage is particularly prevalent in Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...
buildings which use the takings to supplement their income.
- Refectory in Russian Orthodox Convent Jerusalem