opportunity for making very precise claims about how Christ is both like, and unlike, his followers. In this way, exegesis and hymnography of Christ's baptism became significant sources for Christians to articulate their understanding of salvation. At a practical level, too, the link between Christ's baptism and Christians' baptism was compelling - so much so that some effort was required to maintain the norm of baptism at Easter. It seems that, by the mid-fifth century, more baptisms were taking place on Epiphany than during Eastertide in Sicily.76 Why was this date so appealing?

St Paul influentially claimed that baptism was a way of participating in Christ's death (see Romans 6.1-11 - verses often met in ancient baptismal rites). During the age of martyrs, this connection could be realised in a shockingly direct way: a martyred catechumen is to be buried as a Christian, for example, on grounds that 'he is baptised in his own blood'.77 Such a baptism quite simply is a perfect witness to Christ and an actual participation in Christ's death. Near the beginning of our period, in the aftermath of episodic official persecutions, Christians continued to link Christ's baptism to his followers' baptisms. Already in Gregory the Illuminator's catechesis, we encounter the straightforward claim:

The Son of God, therefore, came and was baptized, to establish the baptism of all who would be baptized, that handing on this tradition he might reveal salvation to all, and be understood and known, and that by this he might open his life-giving teaching of truth to be revealed to the world.78

Gregory's assertion that Christ's baptism 'established the baptism of all' is elegant in its simplicity. But eventually the precise relation ofChrist's baptism to the baptisms that he 'established' became the subject of refined discussion.

For example, by the sixth century some theologians were prepared to advance the more sophisticated claim that Christ's very death was actually

76 In 447, Leo the Great, who wished to eradicate the practice, was struggling mightily to make a sharp distinction between the commemoration ofChrist's baptism at Epiphany and the commemoration at Easter of Christ's death - when from his pierced side there flowed 'the blood of ransom and the water ofbaptism' - and resurrection; see his Letter 16 (PL 54: 695-704). Leo's case, however, is not entirely persuasive and there are a number of puzzling silences. For example, his evaluation of the Sicilian custom remains at the level of asserting traditional practice and Roman precedents. He conspicuously fails to engage with anything like a rationale for the Sicilian custom. His attempts at re-interpreting Epiphany as the commemoration of the adoration of the Magi, without a mention of Christ's baptism for several lines, seem diversionary Leo appears to be working against a reasonably powerful current of assuming that Christ's baptism is deeply significant and its commemoration is therefore an appropriate time to perform baptisms.

77 Canons ofHippolytus 101 (TU 64: 91).

78 Gregory the Illuminator, Teaching 420 (trans. Thomson, 91).

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