A baptismal font is an article of church
furnitureor a fixtureused for the baptismof children and adults.
Aspersion and aspersion fonts
The fonts of many
Christian denominations are intended for baptisms using a non-immersion method, such as aspersionor affusion. The simplest of these fonts has a pedestal (about 1.5 metres tall) with a holder for a basin of water. The materials vary greatly consisting of carved and sculpted marble, wood, or metal. The shape can vary. Many are 8-sided as a reminder of the "new creation" and as a connection to the practice of circumcisionwhich traditionally occurs on the 8th day. Some are 3-sided as a reminder of the Holy TrinityFather, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Fonts are often placed at or near the entrance to a church's
naveto remind believers of their baptism as they enter the church to worship, since the rite of baptism served as their initiation into the Church. In many churches of the Middle Agesand Renaissancethere was a special chapelor even a separate building for housing the baptismal fonts, called baptistery.The quantity of water is usually small (usually a litre or two). There are some fonts where water pumps, a natural spring, or gravity keeps the water moving to mimic the moving waters of a stream. This visual and audible image communicates a "living waters" aspect of baptism. Some church bodies use special " holy water" while others will use water straight out of the tap to fill the font. A special silver vessel called an Ewercan be used to fill the font.
The mode of a baptism at a font is usually one of sprinkling, pouring, washing, or dipping in keeping with the
Koine Greekverb βαπτιζω. Βαπτιζω can also mean immerse, but most fonts are too small for that application. Some fonts are large enough to allow the immersion of infants, however.
The earliest baptismal fonts were designed for full immersion, and were often cross-shaped with steps (usually three, for the Trinity) leading down into them. Often such baptismal pools were located in a separate building, called a
baptistery, near the entrance of the church. As infant baptismbecame more common, fonts became smaller. Denominations which believe only in baptism by full immersion tend to use the term "baptism font" to refer to immersion tanks dedicated for that purpose, however in the Roman Catholic tradition a baptismal font differs from an immersion.
Full-immersion baptisms may take place in a man-made tank or pool, or a natural body of water such as a river or lake. The entire body is fully immersed, dunked, submerged or otherwise placed completely under the water. This practice symbolizes the death of the old nature, as found in Romans .
Eastern Orthodox Churchbaptism is always by full triple immersion, even in the case of infant baptism (aspersion or pouring is permitted only "in extremis"). For this reason, Eastern baptismal fonts tend to be larger than Western, and are often shaped like a large chalice (significant, since the Orthodox administer Holy Communionto infants after baptism), and are normally fashioned out of metal rather than stone or wood. During the baptismal service, three candles will be lit on or around the baptismal font, in honor of the Holy Trinity. In many Orthodox churches, a very special kind of holy water, called " Theophany Water", is consecrated during the Feast of Theophany (Epiphany). The consecration (lit., "Great Blessing") is performed twice: the first time in a baptismal font, the second in a natural body of water.
In the Roman Catholic church, especially after its Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), greater attention is being given to the form of the baptismal font. Currently, the Roman Catholic church encourages baptismal fonts that are suitable for the full immersion of an infant or child, and for at least the pouring of water over the whole body of an adult. The font should be located in a space that is visibly and physically accessible, and should preferably make provision for flowing water.
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07433a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia article]
* [http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=c&word=CHURCHFURNITURE Church Furniture] article in
* [http://www.trabel.com/luik/liege-baptismalfont.htm The Baptismal font of Renier d'Huy in Leige, Belgium]
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Baptismal Font — • A basin or vase, serving as a receptacle for baptismal water in which the candidate for baptism is immersed, or over which he is washed, in the ceremony of Christian initiation Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Baptismal Font … Catholic encyclopedia
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baptismal font — noun a church article for the baptism of children and adults … Wiktionary
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font — font1 /font/, n. 1. a receptacle, usually of stone, as in a baptistery or church, containing the water used in baptism. 2. a receptacle for holy water; stoup. 3. a productive source: The book is a font of useful tips for travelers. 4. the… … Universalium