Hippo Baptismal Font and Columns
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Very near the Mediterranean port city of present-day Annaba (formerly Bône) in northeastern Algeria, lie the remnants of Hippo-also known as Hippo Regius, bishopric of Augustine (395-430), the great philosopher, theologian, monastic founder and vigorous opponent of the Donatist position (effectiveness of the Sacraments depends on the moral character of the minister) .Remnants of the basilica that housed worship for St. Augustine and his community of Christians probably date from the late 4th or early 5th C. It is not known whether or not this structure first served Donatists or whether it was erected by Augustine and his followers.Not far from the basilica are the remains of a small baptistery with a rectangular, three-step font large enough to accommodate one adult. Four columns at the corners of the font allowed for curtains to be draped around the font for modesty's sake (catechumens were baptized stripped naked to symbolize abandoning their former life for rebirth in Christ). Too, the columns may have supported a canopy, or ciborium over the font.June 1983
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