From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of prie-dieu

plural prie-dieux prē-ˈdyər(z), (ˌ)prē-ˈdyə(z), prē-ˈdyœ(z)\

1a kneeling bench designed for use by a person at prayer and fitted with a raised shelf on which the elbows or a book may be rested
2a low armless upholstered chair with a high straight back


I recently became aware of this hyphenate while reading Ron Aylor’s  An Unplugged Woodworker blog. I was studying his blog in the hopes of gaining some insight as to why an intelligent and literate person might spend time reading my blog. Still a mystery.

His blog featured two magnificent prie-dieux he had built. The timing was fortuitous for me in that I had just found three of these on my trip to Shreveport and Dallas and wasn’t sure what to call them. This is another example of finding more than one of a new item within a few days when exploring a new area. My finds are not as interesting as the one he built, undoubtedly just mass-market vernacular prie-dieux of the day. I believe that I have seen more of these in the past but that was before my Great Chair Awakening of March 2017 and probably didn’t take note.

I found the first one in Shreveport:


A ladderback prie-dieu.

I didn’t understand the lower seat on this chair until I did some research and discovered that most likely the upper seat is hinged and folds up to allow the one that prays to sit on the upper seat and kneel on the lower. You can see an example HERE.


Here you can see the rear hinge presumably allowing the seat to flip up.


Who was Me. Michon?


The following week, I found this one at a shop in Dallas:


A prie-dieu with beaded turnings.


Another rush seat but this one is not hinged.


Owned by M L Holvoel.


Also from the same shop in Dallas:


A rather plain ladderback.


Another fixed rush seat.


No sign of ownership but a storage shelf for prayer book or hymnal or collection envelopes.


It would be interesting to know more about the life of these prie-dieux. Were they used in a residence or in a congregant worship facility? Were there cushions on the seats? I can’t believe that it was confortable kneeling on rush seats but then again, depending on the church, comfort might not have been a consideration.