Salutatorium

From Middle English we get the word salutare, meaning greeting. A short etymological jump away came salutation, a greeting found in a letter or a speech.  This time of year we will witness salutations all across our nation’s schools from salutatorians, those runner-up students who will be giving their salutatorian addresses during countless high school graduation ceremonies.  These words all carry a secondary, underlying meaning that conveys the idea of respect; in fact, salutation can also mean a bow used as a gesture of greeting.  A close cousin to salutation is salute, which carries the idea of respect and greeting even further.

With the rise of monasteries as places of refuge where monks were cloistered from the laity, there arose a need for a special room within a monastery where monks and non-clerics could meet.  These rooms represented a place where the temporal and the spiritual could practically and symbolically greet one another while retaining the respect accorded to the position of the clerics at the time.  Thus came into being the salutatorium.

salutatorium n. a room in a monastery or church used for receptions and audiences between clerics and the laity; used especially for almsgiving.

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