Aix-en-Provence Baptistery, Interior
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Aix, established near hot springs as a Roman settlement in 123, B.C.E., is located about 30 km north of Marseille in the Provence region of southern France. Adjacent to the Cathedral of the Holy Savior (Cathédrale St. Sauveur) stands an early 5th C. (ca. 400) octagonal baptistery. It is the second oldest baptistery in Provence, after Fréjus; and, it, too, is Merovingian in style. Eight Roman granite columns salvaged from the Temple of Apollo support the baptistery roof. Originally, an inner colonnade created an amublatory around the focal point of the space, the baptismal font. As at Fréjus, the columns bear the marks of holes where rods had been inserted so curtains could be hung to protect the modesty of those being baptized. The ritual called for adults to be baptized by immersion, stripped of their clothing as a symbol of their death to their old lives and rebirth into Christ's Life.
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