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baptistery

baptistery (băp´tĬstrē), part of a church, or a separate building in connection with it, used for administering baptism. In the earliest examples it was merely a basin or pool set into the floor. Later, the Christian Church set aside a separate structure for the ceremony. The earliest such structure still extant is in the Lateran basilica at Rome, in which, by tradition, Emperor Constantine was baptized (337). Octagonal in plan, it formed a model for many subsequent baptisteries, most of which were octagonal or circular. In the center of the chamber was the sunken pool, often surrounded by columns, with curtains to screen the neophyte during immersion. Early baptisteries are chiefly found in Italy and Asia Minor. In Hagia Sophia there is a 6th-century example still extant. When immersion was no longer practiced, a separate structure became unnecessary and was supplanted by a place within the church itself, set aside for the purpose. The standing fonts of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were often objects of superb artistry. In Italy separate baptisteries continued to be built in the 12th to the 15th cent., notably the beautiful Romanesque structures at Florence, Pisa, Siena, and Parma. For the baptistery at Florence Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti designed celebrated bronze doors; for that at Pisa Nicola Pisano carved the marble pulpit.

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baptistery

baptistery, baptistry, baptisterium. Building or part of a church containing the font used for the Sacrament of Baptism, modelled on the cold bath, or baptisterium, of a Roman frigidarium in a therma, often consisting of a sunken circular pool in a circular building. Baptisteries such as those in Parma and Pisa were detached buildings, one polygonal and the other circular, and the form was recalled in some apsidal baptisteries physically joined to churches. Very often fonts are found in churches (usually at the west end), not screened off in any way, but if the area used for Baptism is demarcated by, e.g. a baptistery screen, or placed within an architectural element distinct from the nave or aisles, that arrangement is referred to as a baptismal enclosure.

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baptistery

baptistery XIV. — OF. baptister(i)e — ecclL. baptistērium — ecclGr. baptistḗrion.

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baptistery

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