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Catholic Dictionary




A prefix forming compounds signifying a unit, an institution or person that has pre-eminence over other institutions or persons, e.g., archbishop, archchaplain, archdiocese. Arch (in architecture), a structure built of rigid blocks, shaped like wedges and put together in variously modified curved lines so that, when supported at its ends, it keeps its position by mutual pressure. The separate blocks are called arch stones; the lowest members of the arch are termed springers; the uppermost, when a single stone is used, is called the keystone. The supports of the arch are called piers and pillars, which receive vertical pressure, and abutments or buttresses, which resist lateral thrust or outward pressure. Of all types of arches the pointed arch is the strongest. (Etym. Latin arcus, bow, arch, vault, arc.)