Lee's Lexicon April 1, 2022

Hello Broadway!

I'm venturing once more into the lovely world of etymology, this time looking at the word sanctuary. It comes to English by way of a couple different steps, beginning with the Latin word sanctus, meaning 'holy'. It went through a couple versions - sanctuarium, in Latin, saintuaire in Old French, sentuarie in Anglo-French, and other variations, before ending up in Modern English as the word we use today to mean, generally, the room in a church set aside for worship, or a place where we go to find escape and peace from the world around us.

In the time of Constantine and the medieval church, though, it had a meaning similar to what we'd call 'asylum' today; sanctuary meant that someone fleeing from persecution, be it from the law or someone else, could seek sanctuary on church grounds, and were untouchable there. (It's actually a plot point in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The movie, at least. I've not actually read the book, though I keep meaning to.)

In modern times, of course, churches aren't immune from the law in the same way - nor are they immune from the prejudices and bigotry that we see in the rest of the world.


And that? Is our responsibility to fix. To make the church as a whole, and Broadway in particular, a sanctuary from judgment and hatred; a place of asylum for those who are oppressed or have been hurt by systemic injustice, ad place of peace and love for all. A place where anyone can come, and find a home.


Lee M. Rollins