Font

Font

(baptismal), the vessel containing the water for baptism. It was for some time the custom to baptize in or near flowing streams of water. Then baptisteries were erected outside of churches. Properly speaking, the baptistery was the building in which baptism was performed; and the vessel in which it was performed was called in Greek κολυμβήθρα, in Latin piscina. At a later period the vessel for baptism was placed in the church, and called fons, font or fountain. Fonts finally came to be generally made as vases of stone, elevated three or four feet from the floor, supported by a stone standard, and usually placed before the altar. They were frequently lined with silver, lead, or brass, and were usually adorned with ornamental work in the same style as the church edifice, or with bas-reliefs of scriptural scenes. In form, the early fonts were sometimes round, and sometimes built in the shape of a cross or of a tombstone (Romans 7). At first fonts were covered simply with a lid. These were later enlarged into high and highly ornamented pinnacles or spires.—Bingham, Orig. Eccles. book 8, chapter 7; Parker, Glossary of Architecture, s.v.; Martigny, Dictionnaire des antiquites Chretiennes.

 
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