A spherical ceiling, or a bowl-shaped vault, rising like an inverted cup over a circular, square, or multangular building or any part of it. The term, properly speaking, is confined to the under side, or ceiling, of a dome, and is frequently on a different plane from the dome which surrounds it outside. It is also sometimes applied to the dome (but for this there is no authority), and to a small room, either circular or polygonal, standing on the top of a dome, which is called by some a lantern. A cupola does not necessarily presuppose a dome, and the latter is often found surmounting flat surfaces. The significance of the term is in its form and has nothing to do either with the material used or with its method of construction. According to Lindsay, the cupola of San Vitale, at Ravenna, became the model of all those executed in Europe for several centuries. This cupola is of remarkable construction, being built wholly of hollow earthern pots, laid spirally in cement, a light construction common in the East from early times. The cupolas of the Pantheon at Rome, the cathedral at Florence, the churches of St. Peter at Rome, and Santa Sophia at Constantinople are of solid construction, and the support of the cup-shaped vault is either by pendentives or by a drum. In some cases, however, the cupola is of masonry, and the outer shell of the cupola is of wood covered with lead, as at St. Paul's, London, and at St. Mark's, Venice, the five masonry cupolas have the outer shell of wood and metal. The dome of the Invalides, in Paris, has a wood and metal covering above two inner structures of stone. In the later Byzantine buildings of Greece and other parts of the Levant, many of the cupolas have singularly lofty drums, which are pierced with windows, and the cupola proper becomes a mere roof to a tall cylindrical shaft. Cupolas in modern construction are generally of wrought iron, and the space filled in with some tile formation. The term is sometimes applied to a small roof structure, used for a look out or to give access to the roof.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online