Facing the People in the Patristic Period: The Myth and the Reality

Rev Dr J C Thomas, The University of Nigeria

Paper presented to the 9th International Conference on Patristic Studies in 1983 by the Revd Dr J C Thomas, University of Nigeria. The writer argues that it is a myth that in this period the presiding minister faced the people, found even in learned sources. From early in the life of the church, people faced east. In the Roman tradition sometimes the priest did face the people, for example when the altar was built over a reliquary. Another instance was when the façade of basilicas was to the east (and in which was the door) so that for prayer people turned to face that direction. He concludes with the proposal that in that period the president faced the east, usually facing the same direction as the congregation and not towards them.

Volume 10 Spring 1985, p16