Three painted panels joined by hinges; usually the central panel is the largest and depicts the most important scene of the painting, often a significant event from the life of Our Lord, Our Lady, or one of the saints. The side panels often portray other participants in the central event, angels in adoration, the patrons of the artwork, or a combination of these. In the Middle Ages, triptychs were frequently placed above the high altar of a church. During Passiontide, the side panels were closed to bring a more somber atmosphere to the sanctuary or chancel and to deny the congregation the joy derived from the artwork, which would be inappropriate during that penitential season.
Catholic Dictionary, Revised,
by Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. This 608-page paperback book is $9.95 plus S&H.
Includes an easy-to-use pronunciation guide and a complete history of Catholic terminology. Handy pocket size.
Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Dictionary. Copyright © 2004,
Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.