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Temporary structure used to receive the coffin of a dead person, or to simulate the coffin when the body is not in the church. It was treated with the same respect that would be accorded to the body of the deceased. The term is from the Italian for scaffold. It is placed immediately outside the sanctuary. The catafalque was used at requiem masses to represent the deceased. It was historically surrounded by lights, sprinkled with holy water, and censed by the celebrant. Many contemporary liturgists consider use of the catafalque to be inappropriate and obsolete. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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