altar rail

noun
the rail in front of an altar, separating the sanctuary from those parts of the church that are in front of it.

Origin:
1855–60

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Example sentences
Clearly he is making an act of contrition, or having a born-again experience,
  on the altar rail of the national church.
The symbols and figures on the altar rail and elsewhere in the chancel were
  hand carved.
Old paintings adorn the carved wood reredos and side walls, and a wooden
  lattice railing serves as an altar rail.
The sanctuary behind the altar rail is raised a step and then three more steps
  at the columns.
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