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Friday, February 02, 2007

Baptistries

In the early Christian Church, the catechumens were instructed and the sacrament of baptism was administered in the baptistry.

The sacramental importance and sometimes architectural splendour of the baptistry reflect the importance of baptism to Christians.

Separate baptistries belong to a period of the Church when great numbers of adult catechumens were baptised, and when immersion was the rule.

Some of the older baptistries were very large that councils and synods were held in them.

It was necessary to make them large, because in the early Church it was customary for the bishop to baptise all the catechumens in his diocese (and so baptistries are commonly found attached to the Cathedral and not to the parish churches), and also because the rite was performed only two or three times in the year.