A sacristy is a side room in a church for sacred vessels and vestments and for the vesting of the clergy. It is also called a vestry. Because vessels and vestments are often valuable, the room usually contains wall niches or cupboards that can be closed or locked.
One room with wall niches in an Egyptian church, on the north side of the sanctuary of the small north church of Qusur ‘Isa South I in Kellia, has been identified as a sacristy. Other side rooms with lockable wall niches, however, have not been identified as sacristies because a single such niche is not enough to determine the room’s use.
In the early Christian and Eastern churches, the functions of the sacristy are performed by the diaconicon and the prothesis (room for preparing the elements for the Eucharist). Since the care of valuables fell within the jurisdiction of the OIKONOMOS (“administrator”), the sacristy is the same as the qunumiyyah (“room of the administrator”).
- Burmester, O. H. E. The Egyptian or Coptic Church. Cairo, 1967. Descoeudres, G. Die Pastophorien im syro-byzantinischen Osten, 13-14. Wiesbaden, 1983.