What Is the Difference Between a Marble Ambo and Pulpit?
Updated 11/29/2023 6:17 PM By Alice
In many churches around the world, you will see two types of elevated structures – the ambo and the pulpit. Both usually made of fine materials like marble or wood, they each serve unique liturgical functions. In this blog, we’ll explore the key differences between ambos and pulpits, their locations, designs, and purposes in church services.
The Ambo – Centered on Scripture Readings
The ambo, sometimes called a lectern or reading desk, is specifically used for reading scripture passages, psalms, and other texts during a church service. Its design reflects this role – typically featuring a slanted surface to hold books steadily and a railing to grip. If made of marble, ambos often include ornate carvings and inscriptions across the sloped front panel and side supports.
In most church layouts, the ambo stands centrally on the main aisle, facing the congregation. This allows the reader or lector to proclaim the scriptures out towards the assembled worshippers. Depending on the size of the church, it may be elevated a few steps above the floor. This lets the reader be seen and heard clearly throughout the building during the readings.
Some ambos are portable to allow flexibility, while others form a permanent, integral part of the church architecture – carved directly out of marble walls or stone structures. Whether plain or decorative, fixed or movable, the ambo’s function remains bringing the holy texts to life through public proclamation at mass.
The Pulpit – A Platform for Preaching
In contrast, the pulpit is specially designed for delivering sermons, homilies, and making general announcements within church services. Typically wider and more spacious than an ambo, pulpits feature flat, open tops – providing ample surface area for a preacher’s books, notes, glass of water or hands to rest!
Pulpits are always raised much higher on a solid multi-stepped base, usually to one side of the chancel or altar. This isolates the pulpit from distractions during long sermons while allowing speakers to see the whole congregation clearly. Many marble pulpits also incorporate partial panels, giving something to lean on while speaking passionately!
Due to their role, pulpits tend to have much more elaborate decorative carvings than ambos – reflecting the more extroverted, expansive nature of preaching versus scripture readings. Intricate marble work patterns, religious symbols, biblical scenes and mosaics transform pulpits into true showpieces.
Their prominent placement reflects how the spoken word takes priority during the sermon – the focal teaching point that unpacks theology for the assembled Christians. This educative function necessitates pulpits stand out through height, design and decoration compared to the simpler ambo.
So in essence, the ambo and pulpit perform complementary but quite distinct roles within the ritual and architecture of church worship spaces.
The modestly located ambo puts holy scripture itself at center stage – projecting the Word of God outwards equally to all. In contrast, the impressive, sideline pulpit elevates human interpretative preaching of this scripture to help explain meanings and messages.
While an ambo is a simpler conduit for proclaiming ancient canon texts, the pulpit allows much greater creative license in its power to bring biblical lessons to modern life. Yet both ultimately aim to bridge divine revelation and present reality for the faithful.
The next time you visit a beautiful old cathedral or parish church, take a closer look at these two ever-present fixtures. Notice how the ambo and pulpit differ in design and decoration while working together beautifully to fulfill different elements of praise, proclamation and understanding – just as intended centuries ago by their pious architects!
Choose Quality Marble for Your Church’s Ambo or Pulpit:
As a marble factory established in 1983, YouFine has professional production lines to make ecclesiastical furnishings for our clients. For example, church statues (statues of Mary, Jesus, the Holy Family, archangels, etc.), marble ambos or pulpits, marble baptismal fonts, marble niches, marble altars, and more.
The person in charge of producing YouFine church products is also a devout believer, so under his strict quality control, the quality and details of our church furnishings are extremely good. We only select high-quality natural marble as the raw material. And we have provided quality marble ambos or pulpits for many churches.