Ah well. . . maybe I’m just old fashioned.
(Though I prefer to think I’m cutting edge.)
Anyway, with the opening shots of the cathedral and entering through the main doors the first thing we encounter is the baptismal font. It is conspicuous in its presence in the main isle. It made me think of baptismal fonts in general – or – more specifically baptisteries. Or to be more specific, the lack of baptisteries. Where have they all gone?
For a spell it seemed that all new construction and renovations of parish churches moved to have baptismal fonts along with every minister, the choir, priests, and the pastor’s dog in the sanctuary. It was the in thing. Now there seems to be a reversal of the tide and people and things seem to be flowing back out of the sanctuary including baptismal fonts, but not so far as for the fonts to make it all the way back to the baptistery.
Most recently the in thing is to have the baptismal font close to the front doors of the church. Ah, but this is, believe it or not, not a post about baptismal fonts whose fashions demand that it roam about our churches like Moses in the desert, it is about the long lost step child of Catholic architecture: the baptistery.
If you have an older church you may have one of these though you might be hard pressed to know it. The church at which I am currently had a baptistery though the font is now out in the nave near the sanctuary. The windows in this room all have a baptismal theme. There is St. John baptizing Jesus and the parents of Mary. There is even a white patch in the floor (next to the yellow trash can) where the drain for the baptismal font used to be. For years this was used as a choir room (now in the former boy’s sacristy) but is now used for storage and the hiding of trash until it can be hauled out.
I wish I had an interior shot of this baptistery. You can see it off to the right of the Cathedral of Saint John. It is a small octagonal room (8 being the symbolic number for baptism) with murals painted in the ceiling. The new baptistery is located on the side aisle near the sanctuary. The old baptistery is now (as of a couple of years ago anyway) used as a bridal chamber and a place to distribute Holy Oils after the Chrism Mass.
To the right is my home parish (no longer in existence.) The baptistery was located through the door to the far left of the main entrance. It was replaced by a baptismal font on wheels that could be moved about the sanctuary. *sigh*
Next is a shot of the old baptistery of a great old Church called Saint Augustine. I’m not sure what it is used for now but when I worked at the church it was a shop for Precious Moments statues and First Communion Veils. The new font is in the north transept just off the sanctuary, which is a vast improvement from the glass bowl they used to put on the communion rail.
Saint Bernard’s in down town Akron converted their baptistery into a museum of sorts. Immaculate Conception in Cleveland had a beautiful baptistery that some renovation-turned-bad left it less than ideal but at some point I know they wanted to restore it. I’ll have to check in on them and see what’s up.