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led to the church after baptism to celebrate the eucharist there.19 The bishop awaited the neophyte in the church, where, by virtue of being baptised, he or she could now attend mass. In Jerusalem, the neophytes together with the bishop were first brought to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There a hymn was sung and the bishop said a prayer while standing in the latticework of the chapel in the rotunda (anastasis). Only after this ceremony was the neophyte allowed to attend mass in the five-nave basilica (martyrium).20

The Church did not find it necessary to issue rules for the architecture of baptisteries21 and thus left decisions regarding baptistery design and ornamentation to the bishops and local builders. The Church also displayed a surprising degree of flexibility when it came to the act of baptismal immersion. The earliest surviving texts recommend full immersion, but stipulate that sprinkling (aspersion) is also acceptable if water is in short supply. Flowing water was not a mandatory requirement, a fact borne out by the oldest extant baptistery in a domus ecclesiae (232-3) in the East Syrian city of Dura Europos. The baptismal font, which was set in a shallow recess above the floor, had no water inlet and thus was only suitable for sprinkling ('aspersion'). It is striking that in this house Christian frescoes adorned the walls ofthe congregation'sbaptistery, but not its sanctuary. The local bishop was undoubtedly responsible for this, since he alone had the right to perform baptisms. Depictions of Christ performing miracles, Christ and the woman of Samaria (John 4), the resurrection, and two scenes from the Old Testament were meant to strengthen the faith of the neophyte. Since some of these subjects recur in Roman catacomb paintings, the draughtsman of the baptistery at Dura Europos must have been receptive to pictorial representations and must have come to some kind of agreement with a like-minded bishop. Thus began a momentous chapter in the history of Christian art, one that enabled pictorial representations to play a key role in Christian worship for centuries to come.

For a long period, the room in Dura Europos22 remains our only example of a baptistery with figurative painting, and pictorial imagery did not begin appearing in baptisteries even in the period immediately following promulgation of the 'Edict of Milan' in 313. In their capacity as public and official ecclesiastical spaces, baptisteries probably remained as unadorned as the church sanctuaries themselves. This is exemplified by the baptistery of St Peter's in Rome, which was built in the northern transept of this church of the holy

21 A. Khatchatrian, Les baptistères paléochrétiens.

22 C. H. Kraeling, The Christian building.

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