16th-century double piscina at the Franciscan friary in Kilconnell

A piscina is a shallow basin placed near the altar of a church, or else in the vestry or sacristy, used for washing the communion vessels. The sacrarium is the drain itself. Anglicans usually refer to the basin, calling it a piscina. Roman Catholics usually refer to the drain, and by extension, the basin, as the sacrarium. They are often made of stone and fitted with a drain, and are in some cases used to dispose of materials used in the sacraments and water from liturgical ablutions. They are found in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches, and a similar vessel is used in Eastern Orthodox churches.


The piscina is a Latin word originally applied to a fish-pond, and later used for natural or artificial pools for bathing, and also for a water tank or reservoir.[1] In ecclesiastical usage it was applied to the basin used for ablutions and sometimes other sacraments.

They were originally named for the baptismal font.[2] Piscinae seem at first to have been mere cups or small basins, supported on perforated stems, placed close to the wall, and afterwards to have been recessed therein and covered with niche heads, which often contained shelves to serve as ambries. They were rare in England until the 13th century, after which there is scarcely an altar without one. They frequently take the form of a double niche, with a shaft between the arched heads, which are often filled with elaborate tracery.[1] If there is no drain, a niche for washing is a lavabo, though the usage of the two terms is confused.

Other Languages
العربية: بركة الوضوء
dansk: Piscina
français: Piscine (lavabo)
hrvatski: Sakrarij
lietuvių: Sakrariumas
magyar: Piscina
Nederlands: Piscina (kerk)
norsk: Sakrarium
norsk nynorsk: Sakrarium
suomi: Piscina
svenska: Piscina