upper class, who would have recognised in the figure of Peter the pope under whose authority baptisms were performed.32
Most early Christian baptisteries had adjoining rooms in which catechumens received instruction or the confirmation ceremony was performed. In the latter rite, which was held following the baptism itself, the bishop laid his hands on the neophyte (imposition of hands) and anointed the neophyte with consecrated oil ('chrism'). One consignatorium contained the following inscription: 'Here the hand of the supreme shepherd sealed the lambs, which were washed clean of all sin by the heavenly river.'33 A preserved sixth-century baptistery in the large double church complex in the northwestern section of the 'new city' (urbs nova) in present-day Salona has an adjoining rectangular room on either side. The stone benches of the room on the right hand justify viewing it as a katechumeneion, a room to teach catechumens. The fact that the room on the left hand communicates with both baptistery doors via an archway may indicate that it served as a consignatorium. When the neophyte entered the room through the archway, he saw a floor mosaic of two deer drinking from a cantharus, and the accompanying inscription which said (Psalm 42.1): quemadmodum desiderat cervus ad fdntes aquarum: ita desiderat anima mea ad te, deus.34 These are words that the neophyte had just heard during the baptism rite. The bishop awaited the neophyte beside the priest's throne and anointed him with consecrated oil.
Although numerous baptisteries had adjoining rooms, in most cases the exact function of these spaces cannot be determined. They were used for confirmation, and in some cases exorcism was performed in them as well. Cyril of Jerusalem reported that the devil was renounced 'in the outside building', which was termed the 'vestibule of the baptistery'.35
Whereas the rites of baptism were undoubtedly performed on occasion at major pilgrimage sites, the prevalence of this practice remains unclear. We can only speculate as to how these conversions were realised without a lengthy period of catechetical instruction. Ad hoc conversions of pagans were apparently performed in the presence of Simeon Stylites on his pillar. The conversion business brooked no delays - a monumental baptistery with numerous adjoining rooms and its own church for celebration of the eucharist were erected 200 m outside of St Simeon's pilgrimage site at Kalat Seman. The
33 F. Dolger, 'Die Firmung in den Denkmalern', 16: 'Ubi pontifex consignat infantes: istic insontes caelesti flumine eotas pastoris summi dextera signat oves. . .'
34 Psalm 42.1: 'As a hind longs for the running streams, so do I long for thee, O God.'
Was this article helpful?