A Romanesque limestone baptismal font
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- South Netherlandish, Picardie
- 12th century
- 38 cm
- 51 cm
Carved with an interlace around eight mythological creatures.
Baptismal fonts are pools or containers that hold the water for the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism. In the earliest centuries of Christianity, Baptism was celebrated in natural bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes. In the second century ad, however, due to the persecution of Christians, Baptisms in North Africa, southern Europe, and some places in the East sometimes occurred in bathing rooms and courtyard fountains of private homes, and in the frigidaria (cold rooms) of small public baths. The oldest baptistery discovered was in dura-europos, in what is now Syria, found in an adapted house church from the mid-third century. The rectangular font resembled basins in both the Roman baths and Roman and Syrian tombs (sarcophagi) in Dura. The walls of the baptistery were covered with frescoes depicting biblical scenes informing the meaning of baptism in particular, and of Christianity in general.
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