Catholic Dictionary




A screen or divider, sometimes an enclosure, constructed usually of metal with small spaced openings in it. For centuries it determined the extent of the cloister for nuns in papal enclosures. The use of the grille and, if used, its construction have been modified since the Second Vatican Council, but some physical symbol of enclosure is part of the Church's directives for cloistered contemplative women religious. A grille, in the form of a metal, wooden, or plastic screen, is also part of the standard equipment of a confessional. The grille separates priest from penitent; it allows them to engage in conversation without being able to see each other. Its purpose is to protect the anonymity of the penitent, since the faithful have a right not to be recognized by the confessor when they receive the sacrament of penance.