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Baptism

art water christian medieval

Baptism is the formal ceremony of initiation into the Christian church. Initiation rituals involving water or symbolic cleansing ceremonies were practiced in Judaism and were also popular in several sects and mystery cults of the late antique period. The procedures and preparations for Christian Baptism are outlined in early church manuals (such as the Didache ) and described by Page 30  early authors such as Tertullian ( De baptismate , c.200). Baptism may take place by immersion in water or by infusion (pouring water on the head). The ceremony is normally performed by bishops or priests. Descriptions and discussions of the rite were continued by numerous authors through the Middle Ages.


Baptisms are frequently depicted in early Christian and medieval art, most especially the Baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan by Saint *John the Baptist, which is one of the subjects most often represented in medieval art. This event is mentioned in all four Gospels and marks the beginning of Jesus’ public life and ministry. At the moment of his Baptism, the dove, suggesting the *Holy Spirit, appeared and the voice of *God was heard proclaiming Jesus as his son. In art, the scene normally involves Jesus , John the Baptist (approaching or pouring a cup or handful of water on Jesus’ head), and the dove hovering above. Other witnesses and *angels may also be present. Baptisms of or performed by *saints are frequent in illustrated hagiography, and the baptisms of rulers were also popular subjects in medieval art.

Baquet, Dean P.(1956–) - Journalist, newspaper editor, Chronology [next] [back] Banyon

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