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Although the font signified the paradoxes of death and resurrection, burial and birth,18 the place baptisands heard most often evoked was the tomb. That 'grave of water', as the fifth-century Syrian Narsai called it, allowed the bap-tisand approaching it to imitate the transfer of Christ's body from the cross to the sepulchre, as Cyril of Jerusalem claimed (Cat. myst. 2.4). Even the triple immersion was likened to Christ's three days in the tomb. With each plunge downward, the initiate experienced a sightless moment in Hades. Not just the rites, but also Lent itself, the time of preparations for baptism, was the season of the grave, as the renunciations and sleeplessness reduced the baptisands to the walking dead anticipating the death of another. Thus, baptism mapped a piecemeal symbolic death on the initiand's body. The simulated death, through the extinction of each sense, created the conditions for a stimulation and re-creation of the new person after the font.

Nocturnal transformations were not limited to baptism, however. Night vigils at churches often drew large crowds, many of them women.19 Despite clergy and husbands' efforts to curtail or even ban women's attendance, few women were convinced that prayer in the home could replace the proximity to the saint's presence in the church or shrine. The sixth-century Life ofMatrona ofPerge captures the obstacles women faced. Her husband's misgivings echoed those ofpreachers, who blamed vigils for sexual promiscuity. When she finally convinced him to let her go, she spent the entire night engaged in psalmody and prayer at the Church of the Holy Apostles. She would have stayed longer, had not an exhausted attendant asked her to vacate the premises in the morning.20 The night vigil was also an occasion for engagement with the biblical past. The sung sermons ofRomanosthe Melodist (d. after 555) comprised dialogues, which re-told the major events of Christ's life as well as stories about his mother, various disciples, and even a host of silent characters from the Gospels. These vivid dialogues enlisted the audience to identify with various biblical characters. The raw emotions evoked carried into the streets, where all-night processions took the faithful through the city then out to suburban shrines.21

Prayer, preaching and the eucharist, then, evoked other devotional spaces within the church's walls. To grasp this interpenetration of devotional spaces,

18 Sebastian P. Brock, 'Some important baptismal themes'.

19 John Chrysostom, De sacerdotio 13.69 (SC 272: 217); on legislation prohibiting women from attending all-night vigils, see R. Taft, 'Women at church in Byzantium', 72-4.

20 Life ofMatrona ofPerge 3, Acta Sanctorum Novembris (Brussels, 1910), 111: 790-813; trans. Jeffrey Featherstone in A.-M. Talbot, ed., Holy women of Byzantium, 18-64, see esp. 20.

21 Socrates, H.E. 6.8, discussed in R. Taft, The liturgy of the hours, 170-4.

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