Sometimes the best way to locate the nearest Christian church is to drive around until you see a large steeple or tower jutting out above all the other buildings. It is one of the clearest indicators of a Christian church and one of the oldest features of church architecture.
In fact, it has become so ingrained into Western culture that many of us couldn’t imagine a church without a steeple.
But why do churches have steeples in the first place? What is their purpose?
In church architecture steeples and towers are essentially the same thing. They are vertical structures built on the side, front, back or top of a church and soar above any other nearby building.
At first these buildings were separate towers and often contained a small chapel at the bottom known as the baptistry. This is where catechumens in the early Church would be baptized. One of the best known examples of this type of building is the baptistry located at St. John Lateran in Rome.