Posted by Bruce kahl on March 22, 2001
In Reply to: The gospel side posted by Carole Thompson on March 22, 2001
: Does anyone know the origin of the saying "sitting on the gospel side of the church"?
: It was used in a novel by Jan Karon, maybe "At Home in Mitford", referring to an Episcopalian church in a town in North Carolina.
From the site listed below:
"...In the old Latin Mass, the Scripture readings were done from different places: the priest faced the altar and read the Scripture texts from the Missal sitting on the altar. He and the book would be toward the right side of the altar (from the people's point of view) for the New Testament Epistle; and toward the left side for the Gospel. Thus the "Gospel side" is the left side.
There was a little meaning behind the gesture. Churches were built facing east, so when the priest faced east, "north" would be on the left. In real life, in the late Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages, the people living to the north were the pagan barbarians. So proclaiming the Gospel on the "north"side was meant as a little gesture about preaching the gospel to the heathen."