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inaccessible, invisible.'15 The period from Constantine to Justinian, then, marks a transition in the ways Christians encountered church interiors. Whereas the timber-roofed basilica put attention ahead, the advent of the decorated dome summoned the gaze upward. Thus, fourth-century processions toward a tomblike apse gave way to stationary contemplation of the cosmos in the Divine Liturgy, a transition that was fully realised in the middle Byzantine period with the introduction of the icon screen.

Not far from the altar, some Christians experienced another dramatic space: the baptistery. A privileged space, reserved for the final stages of initiation, the font belonged to a series of rooms connected to the basilica or in a separate structure adjacent to it. During the fourth and into the fifth century, baptism was mainly for adults, although the baptism of children was not unknown.16 Lent, the forty days prior to Easter, was normally the time of preparation for baptism. For eight weeks, the baptisands were expected to fast and undergo repeated exorcisms and instruction on matters of scripture, creeds and morality. Fasting, prayers and instruction intensified during Holy Week, until the night of Holy Saturday, when catechumens were led into the baptistery for final initiations. In the West, the bishop touched the candidate's nostrils and ears to 'open' them to the ceremonies ahead. In the East, candidates for baptism stripped naked, then olive oil was applied to the entire body, 'from the topmost hairs of [the] head to the soles of [the] feet', as Cyril of Jerusalem put it. With male deacons on hand to prepare male baptisands and female deacons tending to the women, the oily touch marked the entire body and not just the mouth to renounce Satan. Candidates faced west to rebuke Satan, then they turned east, toward the light, to pledge loyalty to Christ. Once in the waist-high scented waters of the bath, the baptisand was immersed three times. With some baptisteries elevated yet partially concealed by curtains or veils, baptisands were the central spectacle in a performance of new identity. In the West, myron was poured over the neophyte's head, or in some cases applied serially to the forehead, ears, nose, mouth and breast to mark the awakening of each sense to divine mysteries.17 Following the signing by the bishop, neophytes dressed in white robes, processed into the church with candles in their hands and took first communion on Easter morning.

15 Mathews, The early churches of Constantinople, 127. RobertF. Taft, 'Byzantine communion spoons', esp. 2i3-i9, 238.

16 On catechetical instruction, see the introduction and homilies in Yarnold, The awe-inspiring rites ofinitiation. On the performative dimensions, see A.J. Wharton, Refiguring the post classical city, 75-85,114-31; T. Finn, 'It happened one Saturday night'.

17 Cyril ofJerusalem, Cat. myst. 3.3-4 (FOTC 64:171-2); Wharton (Refiguring the post classical city, 121) finds no evidence for nudity or full-body anointment in Ambrose's descriptions.

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