Font, Consecration of

Font, Consecration Of

In the 4th century, the ceremony of blessing the water to be used in baptism was already regarded as of high antiquity (see Basil the Great, De Spiritu Suacta, 27; Ignatius, Ad Ephes. 18; Irenaeus, Haeres. 1:21, § 4; Tertullian, De Baptismo, 4; Cyprian, Epist. 70, 71; Sedatus of Thuburbum, Sententien Ejusc. 18, 3 Cyprian's Works; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. 3:3; Ambrose, De iis qui Initiantur, 5). Probably the earliest form extant, which cannot be assumed with certainty to be older than the beginning of the 4th century, is that of the Apostolical Constitutions (7:43), in which the priest, after a recitation of the mercies of God, analogous to the preface of the eucharistic office, proceeds, "Look down from heaven, and sanctify this water, and grant grace and power that he who is baptized according to the command of thy Christ may with him; be crucified and die, and be buried and rise again to the adoption which is in him, by dying unto sin, but living unto righteousness." Compare Dionysius Areop. Hierarch Eccles. c. 2.

Another ceremony, the pouring in of chrism, generally so as to form a cross on the surface of the water, was probably of later introduction, though it is found at least as early as the 6th century. Amalarius (De Eccl. Off. 1:25) expressly mentions insufflation as one of the rites in exorcism (q.v.). After the expulsion of the evil spirit by exorcism, he simply says, "munitur aqua crucis signaculo," not distinctly mentioning the pouring in of chrism in the form of a cross.

In the Gregorian Sacramentary (pages 71-73) is mentioned another rite, that of plunging tapers into the water to be consecrated. Two lighted tapers are carried before the bishop to the font; after the benediction, the aforesaid two tapers are plunged into the font, and the bishop "insufflates"' on the water three times. After this the chrism is poured into the font, and the children are baptized. The ceremony mentioned by Consecration of the Baptismal Water by a Taper. (From a Pontifical of the 9th Century.). Amalarius (De Eccl. Off. 1:25), of plunging the tapers of the neophytes into the font, seems to be distinct from this. See Martene, De Rit. Ant.; Binterim, Denkwurdigkeiten; Probst, Sakraniente u. Sakramentalien;' Smith, Dict. of Christ. Antiq. s.v.

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